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REENTRY TODAY: Programs, Problems, and Solutions.

REENTRY TODAY: Programs, Problems, and Solutions, edited and published by the American Correctional Association, Alexandria, Va., 2006, 229 pp.

The reality is that more than 95 percent of all people put behind bars will be released to the community at some point. The get-tough laws of the 1990s sent hundreds of thousands of American citizens to jails and prisons. After the turn of the millennium, the country began to experience the long-term results of their get-tough policies as prison inmates completed their sentences and started returning to their home communities. More than 600,000 inmates are released from prison every year, and counts of those released from jail are far higher.

When the country was fighting crime by removing offenders from the community, there was little thought given to what would happen when they returned. The cost of building new prisons and jails burdened public funding sources, leaving little or no money to provide programs and services for inmates in prison or after they were released. Corrections professionals recognized the need to help inmates return safely, or they would risk high rates of return safely, or they would risk high rates of returns straining scarce resources even further. Once the need was recognized, correctional employees began to look for practices, programs and resources that would successfully return inmates to the community.

Inmates enter prison with limited education, often without a high school diploma or GED. Many are unemployed at the time of their offense and have spotty work histories. A substantial portion suffers from mental illnesses, trauma histories or emotional disorders. Coming from poverty-stricken areas rife with violence and criminal activity, inmates often lack social skills necessary for maintaining employment and healthy relationships. While in prison, many inmates do not have access to programs, and when they leave, they encounter barriers that prevent ex-offenders from obtaining housing, employment and basic needs.

REENTRY TODAY brings together a number of papers and articles from well-known correctional researchers and practitioners that present a continuum of issues that must be addressed to develop an effective reentry program for returning offenders. It contains research articles describing the effectiveness of programs for inmates preparing for release. Other articles describe basic components required to implement new programs, and program directors from across the country describe their experiences in developing and implementing reentry programs. Two Corrections Compendium surveys are included to provide the reader with listings of programs and practices in different states. Brief articles discuss federal funding programs that can be accessed to develop programs, and numerous resources for data, programming and more research are included as well. The book also discusses legislation that both hinders and helps inmates. People working with inmate populations who want to develop effective programs to keep inmates safe in the community or who want to examine their own programming will find this volume helpful in identifying what inmates need; effective programming to meet needs; data to support proposals and advocate for resources; processes for development, implementation and ongoing maintenance; and ideas for programming based on what has been tried in the real world.

Reviewed by Roxy Hennings, director, Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI), Division of Juvenile Services, Maine Department of Corrections.
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Author:Hennings, Roxy
Publication:Corrections Today
Article Type:Book review
Date:Apr 1, 2008
Words:529
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