The recommendations for improving successful reentry of offenders into the community.
What are the key issues individual prisoners’ faces when leaving incarceration?
Incarceration is the confinement of a person by the judicial system convicted with crimes whether before or after criminal conviction and it apply to both adults and juveniles. Inmate go through experiences affecting their ability to be productive once they leave confinement and join the society as they can exacerbate mental health conditions such as major affective disorders or schizophrenia. Apart from mental disorders incarcerated seem to be dependent on drugs. Incarcerated women also have issues they face from prison, they include, how to establish a home and a family, it is not easy to find affordable housing and getting the essentials of life, getting paying employment among many others (Wilcox, 2004).
Key issues offenders face in the reentry process.
The ex- offenders in most cases go through many difficult times upon their release going back into the community. The ex- offenders has to find for himself or herself once they are back in the community without assistance may be by the government or the community. Apart from the general difficulties ex- offenders go through, an issue pertaining to gender also has unbearable issues of reentry problems facing the returning offender. The returning offenders in most cases go through obstacles rendering them unproductive members in the community. In case when a community receives large numbers of ex- offenders they are also in most cases at a risk because the ex- offenders in most cases create a class of low- income communities (Raphael, 2011). Apart from the creation of a low-income community, it also affects the young men who are in most cases the potential wage earners, which also interfere with the financial support for the families as the young men, and parents have been rendered jobless upon returning home. The broad effect is on the communities where the ex- offenders return because after the return the problem of unemployment and lack of proper connections can persist. The ex- offenders find it not easy to have a smooth transition back to the community as there are many barriers preventing them from being productive members of a the society. The barriers are as follows (Travis, 2013).
Housing has always been an issue for the incarcerated. Getting a house has not always been easy to them as the house owners always deny housing to those with criminal records. Families living in public houses sign agreements to avoid the incarcerated families by coming to an agreement that the ex-offenders should neither reside nor visit the public housing unit (Travis, 2013).
The ex- offenders have always find difficult to secure and maintain employment since they find it difficult to find housing. Seeking and maintaining employment is interrelated with housing as housing provides address and telephone number.
Inability to vote by the ex- offenders are seen as the most barriers as they are unable to participate in the electoral process. Incarcerated inability to vote affects not only the individual but has a greater impact to the communities to which they returned which when later grow most of the members of the community will not have a political voice (Wilcox, 2004).
Apart from the above discussed issues offenders face different challenges depending on gender, in most cases the communities to which the offenders has to return to are perceived differently depending on their gender. The community always stigmatizes the female offenders, as the community believes that women who commit crime are defiant to the authority meaning they do not respect the gender roles of the community. When female offenders go back to the community they always find it very difficult to maintain their connections as they got fewer visits during the time they were confined and the women prisons is fur away from their families. The scenario for the women offenders is very different with that of males because males do not find it difficult as the women find it in the community (Travis, 2013).
Men who commit crimes are not warmly welcomed but are seen not to be good members of the community but they do not get critiques to the extent women get it. For women distance during incarceration may lead to loss of custody of her children be it physical or legal. Apart from the challenges mentioned women also get a difficult reentry as compared to men because she has to face different tasks like’ getting children back, securing a job, getting housing, getting medical care. It is therefore evidenced that reentry is complicated by gender. In conclusion, it is clear to say that women go through much psychological problems as compared to the men offenders (Raphael, 2011).
Apart from the challenges the offenders who have been incarcerated face in the community, the community can also fill threaten by the reentering residents who are the in most cases criminals. Communities in most cases take into consideration their security, as they feel threatened by the released offenders. In most cases communities’ political influence is interfered with as most of the ex- offenders are denied voting right and they are also drained financially because they give financial support whenever ex- offenders return to the community (Raphael, 2011).
Key issues offenders face during incarceration process that influence their reentry process.
The confined offenders especially the women face some problems from various angles, other problems result from their lives before imprisonment while others come as a result of their time they are in prison. While in prison women experience challenges like victimization, unstable family life, school failure to go to work other challenges women face are substance and drug abuse and mental illness. There are many challenges women face in prison most of which are going unmet while still in prison environment (Wilcox, 2004).
- Separation from children
Most of the women in prisons are having children who are considered under age, therefore the women in prison find it difficult to maintain proper relationship with their children but at the same time they encounter obstacles from the correctional system they are in and also from the child welfare agencies. Separation from the children is also broadened by the distance between the prisons and the children homes, other factors that compromise women prisoners ability to maintain proper relationship with their children are, limited economic resources and lack of transportation. Because of separation, children of women in prison go through many challenges. In most cases whenever their mother is arrested, children are traumatized which at the end bring affect the children emotionally developing emotions like, anger, anxiety, depression, and aggression. Emotional problems developed by the children come as a result that their children never visit imprisoned mothers. (Travis, 2013).
It is also of great concern that women are incarcerated when pregnant and on delivery, they are not in most cases allowed to be with their children affecting the attachment between the mother and the infant. Most of the correctional systems do not find it important for the mother and the child to be emotionally attached. The incarcerated women are not given the parental rights.
- Lack of substance abuse treatment
It is a general knowledge that most of the offenders use drugs extensively except for a very minimal number. It is sad that women who abuse drugs do not get medical care while in the prisons. Apart from treatment for drug and substance abuse, women get limited treatment whenever they are not in good condition like, when pregnant, mentally ill. Lack of Medicare for women while in judicial systems make women prone to intense emotional distress, psychosomatic symptoms and as a result low self- esteem than their fellow male inmates (Travis, 2013).
- Physical health care
Apart from the necessary health care given to offenders, there are specific health needs that women offenders require. The health needs women require are associated with their sexual and drug behavior that they involved in before their confinement and were also very risky to them. While in prison women can be infected by diseases like HIV, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases and many others. In the prisons, there are health needs that are neglected but are very important. Pregnancy and reproductive health needs is very important but has always been neglected by correctional services. The pregnant inmate suffers a great deal as they are not given both prenatal and postnatal care while in prison. Another problem of concern is that the pregnant prisoners are not given adequate education pertaining to childbirth and parenting and it is also serious that mothers are not allowed to spend most of the time with their children but they are ill prepared in any for their separation with the children after delivery (Raphael, 2011).
Vocational and educational programs
Despite lack of drug abuse and mental health services given to the prisoners, educational programs are not given to the inmate, as it should be. There is great gender disparity in the provision of education to the inmates as female inmates are given lesser trainings compared the male inmates. Female prisoners are in most cases offered fewer educational programs as a result women lack training that can help her secure employment as they are trained on traditional roles of women (Raphael, 2011).
How incarceration process affect reentry
How a family feels about themselves when a members is affected when a family member returns from incarceration. Ex-offenders are always affected on how they are being perceived by their neighboring residents. Residents who live with the ex- offenders always have a belief that the positive changes that can be observed on the ex- offenders are always because of the prison sentence they served. Residents believe that the ex-offenders always make positive contributions only if they change and change can only be communicated to others when they voluntarily participate in community organizations (Rocque et al, 2010). Most communities do not welcome the ex-offenders returned to the community, in most cases the community to where the reentry is a lot frequently call for more crime control. Ex-offenders normally have a feeling of where options were limited and life chances were diminished because they are being identified as bad neighborhood. For children of the ex-offenders the attitude of the residents make them have a reduced stake to conform to the societal norms and values (Raphael, 2011).
Residents from communities where incarcerated neighborhood are many in most cases give negative reports that the neighbors give them a bad reputation referring to them as the homeless. Residents also believe that reentry of the ex-offenders interfered with safety of their neighborhood making others to have desires to leave which is a clear indication of neglect by the ex- offenders (Travis, 2013).
What does the research offer as recommendations in order to improve reentry success?
Drawn from the above discussions reentry has in most cases negative influence on the kind of life communities are whenever they are having a bigger number of incarceration. Reentry of ex- offenders back to the communities creates an environment which is no conducive as the reentry ex- offenders are always leading solitude life from other. This situation makes it very necessary for reentry process to be done in the correct time and the so called entering residents be helped to have a meaningful life in the community and to be a productive member of the community. It can be of a big help if a community center is created to look into and mentor the children of the incarcerated and will help the returning adult by orienting them and as a result, this will strengthen their social norms (Raphael, 2011).
Ex-offenders should also be helped to obtain their right for voting which will make them active members of communities they return to. When the ex- offenders obtain back their rights to vote they will help the ex- offenders to be at high chances of securing employment, securing employment will have greater impact on the life of the ex- offenders because it will increase their sense of belonging. Social networks should be strengthened for counseling with an aim of creating a more effective social unit for supporting reentry. (Kenemore, 2013)
Prison based programs has been created to promote parent child relationship there recognizing the importance of tie in the family. Projects like sesame street Project has promoted the family tie by providing a special visiting room for the prisoners with the mind of making visits easier in order to strengthen the child and children relationship. The Texas department of corrections also developed a family support program strictly meant to enhance ties between the prisoners’ and their children. The Texas department of corrections also developed a program for rehabilitating the offenders, they provide services like providing both individual and group counseling specifically for the offenders and their families, it helps in enhancing the advocacy, and referrals with the families, and many other community based services (Lauderdale 2001).
There should be a comprehensive approach to be considered at reentry process. This approach should stress on fostering the social capital and collective efficacy that demands that reentry is about not only coming home but also it demands considering the community to which they return. It is important because it is in the neighborhood where people interact to the wider society (Rocque et al, 2010).
Impacts of reentry of offender’s children and family
The process of reentry poses challenges the ex- offender’s families on whether they can rebuild the relationship or not. The process of rebuilding relationships means winning trust within the family and the community as a whole and getting employment. Reentry affects the major components of social capital which when translated effect is on the children. The manner in which ex- offenders return is very important (Travis, 2013). To the ex- offenders who do not reconnect with their families are always good examples of those who miss the opportunity to supervise their children at childhood and at adolescence. When adolescence stage is not supervised, he family units become weakened. It is important to say that incarceration is important factor in the social capital as children feel the absence of their parents and this is why in most cases children visit their parent during incarceration as it helps to reduce recidivism. (Raphael, 2011).
Ex- offenders on the reentry process are normally felling stigmatized in most cases by the communities and the residents. In most cases this is realized when their families report that they are being stigmatized. Results of stigmatization is a lot as those ex- offenders who are stigmatized have various feelings and concluding opinions for example, those who feel stigmatized tend to move away from the communities to a new community and residence to start live, they also tend to isolate themselves leading a solitude life and avoid those who judge them. Lastly, they heed not to the opinions of those who talk ill of them (Wilcox, 2004).
Better working programs for ex-offenders reentry
- Establishment of halfway houses, which are also known as residential centers.
A residential facility for ex- offenders who are almost vacating the prisons as determined by the prison authority. Residential facilities offering incarceration alternatives in most cases get direct sentence from a judge. A times probationers have to spend in the residential facility before they are fully released to the communities as ordered by a judge (Raphael, 2011).
Residential facilities are also created to help the offenders prepare fully and that is why they are sent to the facility to help them and prepare them to go back to the communities for this case they are in a position to back to the community unsupervised. While in the facility, the offenders are required to get employment and to attend various programs and treatment classes (Wilcox, 2004).
- In 1800s, England and Ireland made a step and created a supportive environment for the offenders who are going for reentry back in the community. The two governments purposefully provided supportive environment for the offenders simply because the community was not ready to support or even receptive to the returning offenders.
- Need for programs for helping the retuning offenders spurred largely because there was growth of diversion programs and the deinstitutionalization the returnees who had different complexes such as mental illness, juveniles were also among those who required attention, the mentally ill and the non-violent offenders who needed projection from the other offenders. It was very necessary to come up with programs to help the offenders returning to the community because the returning offenders were faced with the backyard challenge. The backyard challenge meant the community is generally supportive halfway houses but they do not tend to support their existence in the neighborhood. Which means they want them but they do not want them near their homes (Raphael, 2011).
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