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Are You Biting the Butts of a Rifle?

Updated on July 13, 2009

Common Reentry Challenges Facing Offenders Released From Prison

  •  Limited transportation, lack of child care, and poor health contributing to barriers to accessing services
  • Many programs are limited to non-violent offenders or people who were very recently released, which excludes a large portion of former pprisoners
  • Returning prisoners are often unaware of existing services, especially for basic necessities like food,shelter,clothing,and health-care
  • Many offenders are not tech-savvy and may be more successful in accessing services if given a human contact instead of a phone number or Internet address
  • Some poviders are out of touch with the needs of returning prisoners and therefore do not tailor their services arounf them
  • Former prisoners are sometimes treated with a lack of respect by providers,which discourages them from accessing services
  • There is a need for increased cultural sensitivity on the part of the providers 

 On any given day, I struggle with providing my offenders with the basic tools to success with reentry to the free society, while balancing the needs of society as a whole who resent my professional position in the community(most people think that offenders need to be taken out and shot to death).


The biggest challenges facing returning prisoners are securing housing and employment, as well as avoiding drug and alchol abuse. These hurdles are compounded by the obstacles of rebuilding family relationships and support networks, avoiding negative influences, maintaining hope and self-esteem, and adjusting to daily life on the outside.


Discriminating landlords and rental agencies can severely impact housing options, resulting in former prisoners living in oppressed living conditions,marginalized neighborhoods, or even on the streets. Often they return to the old neighborhood haunts they once dominated prior to prison and recollect the negative influences from the past.


There is an outcry of needs for mental health services, and continuity of health-care that was once afforded within prison walls. Families, friends, and offender support systems find that they are the backbone of care and assistance to offenders once released from prison. Many of these loyal peoples are increasing in numbers as the prison population and release population grow in staggering proportions. This no longer affects only a few people we believe we will never meet.


Many in society overlook the need for aid to families left behind by offenders going back to prison, assistance with family reconciliation, and opportunities for support from other former offenders.


Offenders who receive high levels of support from family after release and have access to social support from community services fare a lot better in not redividing.



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