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Rehabilitation of Prison Inmates (Part 2)

W. Scott Cole

Posted on May 3, 2018 23:41

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I did not intend to make this a two-part piece, but was reminded of the importance of the third part of the rehabilitation puzzle: the support system.

After my TLT last week, a comment reminded me that, in addition to stable housing and employment, the inmate coming out of prison should ideally have a support system in place. The three are like a three legged stool. It allows a person to sit on it comfortably. Remove one of the legs, and you can still sit on it, but it is not as comfortable because you have to work to maintain your balance.

When an inmate comes out of prison, he is more than likely (but not always) on parole. The best chance he has to show that he has been rehabilitated and to reduce recidivism is to have all three parts of the puzzle in place. He can have two, housing and a job, and succeed, but if he has a solid support system, that success is much easier.

The states could and should be involved with helping an inmate to have a support system and it is the one thing of the three that would be the least costly and easiest to help set in place. Mostly, the states’ part of it would be facilitation and education of what it takes to be support.

A support system is usually an inmate’s family and friends, but volunteer groups of concerned citizens can be formed and set up to provide support for those who have nobody or only one or two people to support him. Those groups exist in some states and need no more than the state putting them in touch with the inmate needing the support system. A support system or group does not mean supporting the inmate financially, though at first the inmate just released from prison may need that. If he is serious about making the best of his second chance, he will treat any financial help as a loan and repay those providing it.

Being part of an inmate’s support system, even more importantly, means helping in ways other than financial. When someone comes out of prison, especially if he has been there for an extended period of time, he is coming out into a world that he is not used to; culture shock hits hard. How he reacted to situations in prison is not acceptable many times and a support system can help him ease back into the proper way to handle things.

The members of a support system can provide transportation to help get to appointments, especially in those first few weeks when the state requires him to do certain things for his parole, to go to job interviews and help find housing. Perhaps most importantly, a good support system will give the inmate someone to listen to, that will not belittle his problems and will understand  and help him overcome those problems, or just allow him to vent when the new world he finds himself in frustrates him.

The value of a good support system should never be overlooked or undervalued.

W. Scott Cole

Posted on May 3, 2018 23:41

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