SUPPORT RE-ENTRY COALITIONS

  

In recent years, re-entry coalitions or programs have been created all across the country. In general, a re-entry coalition is an organization functioning on a local level that:
1. assists parolees reintegrate into society;
2. helps to reduce the recidivism rate (rate of repeat offending) in a community;
3. helps to maintain public safety;
4. increases the rate of employment;
5. creates a larger base of tax paying citizens;
6. assists in reducing the amount of child support owed by ex-offenders; and
7. supports mechanisms for people with substance abuse problems.
Most re-entry coalitions achieve these goals through partnerships with government entities, faith and community-based organizations, private donors, and other members of the community.
In general, these organizations use an approach that starts at the point of contact with the criminal justice system and includes an emphasis on education, families, health services, alcohol and other drug treatment, employment, mentorship and housing.
West Georgia is fortunate to have a thriving re-entry program.
On May 11, 2011, an organization formerly known by another name officially reorganized in the west Georgia area as the Re-Entry Coalition, Inc. (RECI), and since then, obtained nonprofit status. Their mission, like many others across the nation, is to reintegrate former prisoners into the community, reduce prison recidivism, and improve public safety through addressing the educational, employment, healthcare, housing and family relationship needs of prisoners re-entering society by providing support and connection to needed services in the community after prisoners have been released.
The RECI has been providing their clients with the support they need to transition back into the community. The program is designed to help clients overcome any barrier they may face when they return to the community. Basically, the RECI provides support and contributes to their success in establishing a stable life once they are released.
RECI has been fortunate to have strong support in this area. For example, in the past few years, the Community Foundation of West Georgia has partnered with RECI. To learn more about the Community Foundation of West Georgia, go to www.cfwg.net.
Well, why is this important to the community as a whole?
We all benefit when those people who have “paid their debt to society” are assisted as they are released from incarceration. These men and women can get jobs and pay taxes, take care of their own children instead of third parties doing so, and reduce the rate of recidivism.
This scenario makes for a safer, more vibrant community that pays less in taxes.
I am a strong believer in self-sufficiency. However, ex-offenders often find themselves in overwhelming situations. Money, children, fines, fees, housing, employment, and other obstacles are an immediate concern. Without mechanisms supporting offenders when they are released from prison, offenders are much more likely to go back to old friends and hangouts. This easily leads back to a life of crime and thus the circle of recidivism continues to rotate.
Re-entry coalitions provide a great example of local government, the private sector, and community foundations working together for a common purpose.
They are also nonpartisan, commonsense organizations that need to have strong support within communities.
I hope that you will consider supporting the local RECI or equivalent programs in your community.