Re-Entry Back Into Society…
Transitioning from institutionalized thinking to independent thinking!
Hi friends and family! I’m praying that this week our hearts will be so full of love, that we will embrace others who are completely different from us.
I’m going to start sharing where this challenging expansion of my nonprofit is taking me, not just for accountability purposes, but sharing my fears and insecurities sojourning into areas I’m far from qualified to engage in, but have been called to.
God is doing amazing things with Blameless and Forever Free Ministries as we transition into the re-entry programs for the incarcerated. If society doesn’t support them, they’ll become homeless and be prone to unlawful conduct. And with 600,000 prisoners nationwide being released each year, we don’t need to add to our homeless epidemic.
I’ll be breaking up my writings into smaller chunks after this one since there are areas I, myself, never gave much thought to and can be perceived as quite overwhelming.
Words alone won’t impact people, but the power of God that is manifested through our lives does.
Is everyone really welcomed in today’s society? How we respond to the oppressed, our incarcerated and homeless, is a perfect heart check. It’s one thing to say everyone is welcome, but it’s another to support it with actions.
Upon release, the incarcerated walk out through the pearly gates overwhelmed. Freedom at last! But a whole new foreign world rushes in. Fantasies never detected the strong sting of transition. Focus is scattered. Between the nervous kind of energy and the adrenaline flooding from their systems, each pump and beat resembles more of a prison break than a release date.
It takes bravery to feel and experience this fear while keeping self-controlled. It’s the hardest thing anyone could do, especially without a support system!
The typical offender is released from prison with nothing but a new state identification card, a $250 debit card, a bus ticket, and the clothes on their back. This is how our incarcerated re-enter society.
One minute everything is institutionalized thinking and controlled and suddenly it’s independently dependent on thyself. Change is hard. If that’s not hard enough, try existing again being branded with the big “F” as in “Felon.”
Connections provide the spark that is needed for the journey back to a vital and dignified life.
Welcoming our returning citizens (incarcerated) back into community takes preparation. With 2/3 of all inmates ending up back in prison within three years of their release dates, we need to start investing in them before they leave their institutions and thereafter.
Investing in people and human dignity, we will reap the rewards of a safer and sound community for ourselves.
If we take the time to teach them how to take care of themselves, they’ll be able to take care of themselves, their family and their communities.
That’s rehabilitation, right?
We mustn’t forget that our incarcerated are branded for life. They are handicapped. That is their new reality also.
With 25 percent of the population having arrest records, that means there are more people with arrest records than college degrees.
That is a mind-blowing concept to me. We wonder why the world is the way it is today. It’s too easy to hate and hard to love! This is both sobering and motivating.
Another interesting statistic is, why do so many people end up back in prison?
I have a criminal record!
No, I don’t personally have a criminal record. I do have a son that does. And according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, with having 2.3 million people incarcerated annually along with over 4.7 million on some form of parole or probation, every family has at least one beloved in need of extra grace.
Shocking statistics, but one in every four Americans has an arrest record. That’s a staggering statistic.
What does a person with an arrest record look like?
Speaking of my son, he’s smart, handsome with blue eyes and blonde hair and loves his mother and daughter to eternity. He’s an amazing father. His heart is full of compassion and he’s working on completing his degree.
He made a mistake in getting into a fight and is doing time for his crime. Once released, he will have his mother outside those pearly gates to surround him with love, support and help guiding him back into society being a productive member.
Why do people return to prison? For one, their criminal record discriminates them from essential matters that we take for granted, like housing and employment.
Successful reentry requires compassion, patience and forgiveness.
A typical three-year sentence costs taxpayers over $100,000 of investment dollars into their rehabilitation. But where is this “rehabilitation” when one only knows institutionalized thinking and demands?
Statistics show one in five walking into prison is a result of not being convicted of a new crime, but for violating extra rules of their parole or probation that you and I could commit, without a criminal history or record, that otherwise would not be considered an offense.
Violations could be something as minimal as missing a court date, a parole or therapy appointment, not having a stable job or housing, or even not paying fines.
Our prison system is very good at punishing people, but rehabilitation is lacking. The real reason a person ended up in prison goes largely untreated.
Most ex-offenders leave the state prison facility with more problems than what brought them there in the first place; their pre-incarceration issues.
Having said that, where do they start? They are overwhelmed. Every decision in every hour of their days incarcerated were managed and dictated by others while being incarcerated. Their own personal decision-making skills atrophy. They’re not used to thinking, every hour is already determined day in, day out.
How can we expect them to make better decisions and choices when everything is up against them?
Without the tools taught during a successful transition back into society, the ugly process of incarceration starts all over again.
Many return homeless, indigent, with no place to go, no job, and no specialized training.
For those that do have a place to go to, whereas not to be homeless, some go back to the same environments that caused them the problems in the first place.
I’ve seen firsthand what happens when an addict goes back to living with an addict. They’re back in the dysfunction that caused their incarceration.
Oooops, I’ll stop here. I hope you’ll come back and hear more.
Generous hearts meet the offenders right where they’re at because they know one day that they will become our neighbors…
Until next time…