In recent years, re-entry coalitions have been created all across the country. In general, a re-entry coalition is an organization functioning on a local level that:
- assists parolees reintegrate into society;
- helps to reduce the recidivism rate (rate of repeat offending) in a community;
- helps to maintain public safety;
- increases the rate of employment;
- creates a larger base of tax paying citizens;
- assists in reducing the amount of child support owed by ex-offenders; and
- 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.
I was introduced to the local non-profit Re-Entry Coalition, Inc. (RECI) years ago by my friend Bob Jackson. Bob is the executive director and one of the most selfless citizens in our community. Since meeting Bob, our law firm has supported RECI because it is one of the best investments that can be made in our community.
Last month, I met with Bob. The purpose of our meeting centered around funding. RECI is so vastly underfunded, it is embarrassing. Yet, Bob and his team forge ahead because they know how important RECI is to all of us.
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 reentering society by providing support and connection to needed services in the community after prisoners have been released.
Well, why is this important to the community as a whole? Why should anyone write a check to RECI?
We all benefit when people who have “paid their debt to society” are assisted as they are released from incarceration. Without some guidance, many will fail at finding employment and end up back in prison. When this happens, more children are placed in foster care, the cost of public assistance rises, and the vicious cycle of repeated incarceration continues costing taxpayers millions of dollars each year.
However, a fully funded RECI would have the means to provide all men and women the tools to get jobs and pay taxes, take care of their own children instead of third parties or the government doing so, and reduce the rate of recidivism.
I am a staunch conservative and believer in self-sufficiency and responsibility. However, I also know first hand that 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.
Please consider supporting the local RECI by providing the financial assistance they desperately need.
I give you my word that people like Bob Jackson will do the rest.
Bob can be reached on his cell at 678-863-3042.
His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.