I spent most of my career in corrections management and parole supervision, but now have found my most rewarding challenge assisting inmates in the reentry process. Over the years I observed how the impact of criminal thinking, substance abuse and incarceration imposes a heavy toll on convicted offenders, their victims, their families and the community. So it makes absolute sense to me that assisting inmates in successful community reintegration carries the potential to re-balance some of the damage left behind. While I wholeheartedly support the concept of incarcerating those who have chosen to impose their criminality on others, I never lost the belief that many offenders, given the opportunity to redirect their criminal thinking, have the potential to return to our neighborhoods as contributing member of society.
But surviving an extended prison stay presents many distractions and dangers, and success is contingent on a number of factors including access, attitude and motivation. This non-profit is important because we know that at the critical point of reentry, there are interventions that can have positive results. We believe that providing essential “daily living” resources at the moment of release, gives the individual practical tools that can give them resource connection ability, and the means to begin seeking employment and individual stability in the community. The inherent challenges to beginning a new life after prison are many, and often result in seeking a direction that is familiar, but strewn with danger and a return to the old criminal thinking ways. We want to mitigate that possibility. Avoiding technical violations, and the possibility of a return to prison, are the consequences that must be avoided, and that is why mentoring and support at the onset of release are so critical. Granted, those afflicted with mental health and severe drug addiction issues will continue to struggle in the community, but there are those who are at a tipping point in their recovery, and we need to be ready to support them with a strong community response at release.
While there are community resources that are available to assist individuals in pursuing reentry goals, they are often difficult to find and access for an individual who has no means of communication, transportation, and who is overwhelmed and disoriented after a sustained period of incarceration. Village Resources understands these barriers after years of providing support for individuals who face common barriers during the gap period that follows release and continues until the individual achieves some reasonable degree of stasis in the community. And this means that the individual has remained compliant with the conditions of supervision, is making progress in finding employment, and is able to seek and make contact with essential community resources necessary for successful daily living.
We believe that by providing a few simple resources at the moment of release that the road to successful reentry can be made much easier. We also believe that providing these individuals with a few simple tools such as a cell phone, work boots, appropriate clothing, a workable bike, and the mentorship support to access critical resources can make an appreciable difference in their journey to achieve successful community reintegration.
Finally, we believe that Village Resources only can offer one piece of the reentry puzzle by providing gap assistance at the moment of release. Correctional policies need to redirect the flawed idea that correctional programing without consistent and seamless community programming will work. There are a smattering of successful self sustaining community programs, but many rely on subsidized support from both county and state agencies which puts their ongoing operations at risk due to the spiraling operational costs necessary to fund essential correctional operations.
So hopefully one day the availability of quality community resources including transitional housing, meaningful employment preparation and referral, and structured and subsidized mentor programs will be ready to provide the kind of post incarceration support that has sufficient depth to move these individuals along the path to success.
So we hope that you can join with us in this opportunity to help provide what we believe are essential resources and services during the initial days, weeks and months after release.