Former criminals, after the release from prison, face a world much different than the one they lived in before their arrest. The environment completely changed and is now an immense challenge that actively deters individuals from becoming productive members of society. There are two different routes for re-entry—following the reintegration programs and successful readjustment or returning to prison.
According to the National Office of Statistics, “an estimated 68% of released prisoners were arrested within 3 years, 79% within 6 years, and 83% within 9 years.” These percentages showcase how most ex-prisoners are unable to make a successful transition. Whether your loved one is in prison or you’re a prisoner trying to reintegrate, we compiled a few key tips on how to integrate back into society after serving time.
One of the most important tips for successful reintegration is starting early. Plan as early as possible for what you can do to have a successful life after prison. This means that as vital as it is to follow release programs, it’s even more important to follow pre-release programs. Yes, finding a job post-release is imperative, but so is taking the time to help offenders change their attitudes and beliefs about crime. These programs may also address mental health issues, offer job training, and more.
Assess Strengths and Weaknesses
Along with pre-release programs comes the idea of conducting inventory on yourself. When a prisoner can figure out their strengths and weaknesses, it will create the framework to accomplish the following tips. Strengths can be anything from a high school or college education and previous employment to skills learned in prison. Consider the assets in life—relationships, social networks, and undeveloped talents, and see how those can impact life after release.
Having a solid group of mentors is essential for a positive release. These mentors can be anyone from family members to acquaintances who want to help. Either way, these individuals can go through training so they can offer advice, support, and the friendship that many ex-prisoners need to move forward in life.
Whether you have an upcoming release or a loved heading home soon, you need to pay attention to re-developing relationships. Time in prison heavily affects relationships, and if you want a successful reintegration, revisiting these connections is a key aspect. Rebuilding and repairing relationships with family and friends can be the aspect that keeps someone from recidivism. Begin this relationship work before release as well with letters, telephone calls, and visits.
Make sure that you continue to locate helpful resources before and after release. Whether these are governmental resources or aid from churches and more, these resources can make or break a successful release. From how to find food to substance abuse treatments, these resources for ex-prisoners are a necessity. If you can determine where you can turn before release, it will truly help lessen stress and anxiety once the time comes to leave prison. You can find many resources on this site that can help you in successfully to rehabilitate rehabilitation.
Serve the Community
Finally, do your best to serve the community upon your release. Contributing to society takes time, effort, and intentionality, which helps ex-prisoners build a constructive future for themselves. Volunteering with different organizations will re-incorporate you with the “new” world and help build positive relationships with others. You can carry the skills you learn in these scenarios into many other areas of life as well.