Once an inmate has served his or her sentence, the time to re-enter society comes. This transition is very difficult regardless of the amount of time served. A large number of inmates that are released from prison will re-offend and subsequently return to prison. This is called recidivism and it is one of the measurements commonly used to determine how well prepared individuals are for their release and return to society.
In Nebraska, individuals are most often released from prison with a small amount of money, called Gate Pay. Often this is $100 or less. With this money the newly released inmate needs to find a job, a place to stay, food, and transportation. Not an easy task. Could you imagine being plopped down in a town where you don’t know anyone or have any friends with only $100 in your pocket and no other assets? With this money you would need to find a place to live, food, and a job. Does it sound daunting? This is the reality facing inmates being released from prisons all across the United States.
Returning to society after being incarcerated for a number of years is not easy. The most efficient way to assist individuals in staying out of prison, once they are released, is to properly prepare them before they are released. Many studies show that individuals who are released in a prepared manner run a far less risk of re-offending. Some examples of what this preparation can include are:
- Teaching critical thinking skills such as goal setting, making positive and constructive choices, having a reasoned response rather than a rash reaction to stressful situations, and appropriate conflict resolution skills.
- Finding a place to stay before release date. This can be a half-way house.
- Having the information on where to turn for items and assistance for things like social security card and drivers license.
- Knowing where to find job listings, how to apply for a job, how to be a good tenant, having basic job and life skills.
Most of what we do at Released and Restored is focused on preparing inmates to become contributing members of society after release so they can live moral, ethical, and legal lives once released from prison.
Everybody wins when a released inmate stays away from crime and re-incarceration. The savings to taxpayers are huge. The monetary gains for society are immeasurable when individuals work and pay their taxes, pay sales tax, purchase locally, etc., instead of being incarcerated and not contributing at all financially. The impact on the inmate’s family is enormous. Children especially are affected negatively by having one parent incarcerated. Department of Justice statistics indicate that children with just one incarcerated parent are 7 times more likely than their peers to become incarcerated themselves.
Preparing inmates to live moral, legal, and ethical lives after they are released is a great investment for everyone.