How Reentry Programs Improve the Community

Every year, over 650,000 individuals are released from state and federal prisons. Approximately two-thirds of those people are likely to be rearrested within three years of their release. It can be difficult for ex-prisoners to return to society due to the struggle of challenges such as finding a job, a lack of income, or homelessness. Most of these individuals lack the support system and guidance that they need to avoid returning to a life of crime. This is where reentry programs come in to help. Reentry programs are programs designed to prepare offenders to reenter society. Reentry programs offer a variety of support, from employment assistance to housing to mentorship programs. There are three main kinds of reentry programs: programs that take place during incarceration, programs that take place during the release period to provide needed services, and long term programs focused on permanently reintegrating ex-prisoners with society.

It is challenging, to say the least, for individuals who have spent years in prison to be released into a society with new technology, little to no income, fewer opportunities to earn an income, and little guidance. Many formerly incarcerated individuals find themselves in a situation that often feels like they are set up for failure and fall back on a path towards crime. Breaking this cycle is important for not only improving the lives of these individuals, but also bettering society as a whole and improving public safety. Successful reentry programs give former offenders the opportunity to become productive members of society and make a meaningful difference in the community. They provide the tools, resources, and stability formerly incarcerated people need to rebuild their lives for the better.

Improve Public Safety 

Reducing recidivism is vital to increasing public safety. Reentry programs help former offenders rebuild their lives and make them less likely to be repeat offenders and return to prison. Reducing the number of re-offenders decreases crime rates and makes communities safer. It also lowers correction costs. This promotes an overall safer society. One study found that individuals participating in reentry programs had a recidivism rate of 47% compared to that of 53% among individuals who did not participate in reentry programs.

Lower Unemployment Rates

Many formerly incarcerated people have a difficult time finding a job after being released from prison and can expect their future earnings to be reduced by 40%. Finding meaningful employment is key to putting people on a path toward a better life. Many people also find themselves in a situation where they also need training or education to help them prepare for employment. Reentry programs exist to provide services, like creating a resume or preparing for interview questions, to former prisoners that help them succeed when searching for a job after being released from prison. According to the Rand Corporation, prisoners who participated in correctional education programs have a 43% lower chance of recidivating and were 13% more likely to obtain employment upon release than those who did not participate in the programs. Formerly incarcerated individuals are unemployed at a rate of over 27%, which is significantly higher than the typical U.S. unemployment rate. Setting these individuals up to succeed and find sustainable long term employment is key to reducing this number and improving lives. The more reentry programs that help former inmates find employment, the lower unemployment rates are for the community.

Promote a Healthier Society

One common barrier to successfully reentering society is substance abuse. Many reentry programs are designed to provide support and counseling to individuals faced with this challenge. Substance abuse can be attributed to or influenced by difficulties with housing, employment or mental health. Reentry programs help increase access to the appropriate health care needed after release from prison. Improving the health of the formerly incarcerated often supports a successful reentry. 

Helping Reentry Program Accomplish Their Mission

Reentry programs do great work in the community by providing the resources and support many people need to avoid being rearrested. Reducing recidivism is an important goal for society as a whole. Solving social issues and breaking down barriers to a successful reentry to society is key to reducing recidivism risk. Reentry programs help break the cycle that many ex-prisoners find themselves in. We know that sometimes it can be more difficult for reentry programs to accomplish their mission without the right tools and resources to support them. Pieces is dedicated to helping organizations like reentry programs accomplish their goals and support their community. Pieces Connect is a robust case-management platform that more easily enables the input, storage, and management of the information about your clients who need to connect with community networks and services. The software empowers users to do a variety of things like logging encounters and tracking the needs of clients. Users can easily create and access a social needs summary for clients, and can set appointments and reminders for clients. It even has SMS capabilities to text the client directly about upcoming referrals and appointments. 

Many individuals often find themselves needing a little extra support. Pieces Connect makes it easy for organizations to not only make referrals for their clients, but also find out that they actually got the extra help they needed. “Pieces’ referral system has allowed us the opportunity to connect to our partners from an internal standpoint as well as other resources in the community that we may not already be partners with”, says Christina Melton Crain, Founder and CEO, Unlocking Doors. These closed-loop referrals are vital to addressing the needs of the client.  “Pieces is invaluable to our clients and getting them served. Every one of our clients has benefited greatly from Unlocking Doors partnering with Pieces”, says Crain. With Pieces Connect, reentry programs and all community based organizations can more efficiently manage clients’ needs to better fulfill their mission and improve communities.