by Trinity Jimenez
At KLINK, our mandate is to assist men and women coming home from prison in finding job training and employment opportunities. Many people do not realize the challenges faced by individuals when they try to reintegrate into society after spending time in prison. Here are some facts about the experiences of former offenders, which helps explain why we are proud of the employment programs that we offer to our clients.
Although these anecdotes come from an American study, our clients have similar experiences upon release from prison.
– A majority of the men and woman returning home from prison believed that having a job opportunity lined up for them once released from prison would be an important factor contributing to them staying out of prison; however, only about one in five reported that they had a job waiting for them right after release.
– Multiple studies have shown that a large majority of prisoners requested assistance in finding employment, considering it one of their greatest needs upon release. However, only about one-third of Illinois and Maryland Returning Home respondents said that they had participated in an employment readiness program while in prison.
– In the evaluation cited, more than a third of the respondents reported having a hard time obtaining a vehicle for work or emergencies and almost a quarter reported difficulties when using public transportation. During a focus group, former inmates in Rhode Island also cited transportation challenges as a barrier to employment as well as access services.
– This study found that an increase in employment levels was a predictor of reductions in drug dealing, violent crime, and property crime. Returning Home findings revealed that Illinois respondents who did not have jobs were more likely to be sent back to prison.
– According to Returning Home findings show that between 30 and 40% of respondents reported having a chronic mental or physical health condition. The most commonly reported conditions were depression, asthma, and high blood pressure. In 2002, about a third of the prisoners released in New Jersey had been diagnosed with at least one chronic and/or communicable physical or mental health condition.
– Three quarters of both the Illinois and Maryland Returning Home respondents stated that having a place to live would be an important factor in staying out of prison. The men and women who did not have housing arrangements lined up in prison , over 70% reported that they would need some help or a great deal of help in finding a place to live. The majority of released prisoners live with family members and/or intimate partners upon release.
– Before being released, more than half of Illinois and Maryland Returning Home respondents reported that family support would be an important factor in helping them avoid returning to prison.
– A vast majority of respondents in the Illinois Returning Home study reported having at least some sort of telephone or mail contact with family members and intimate partners. Although only 13% of respondents had face to face interaction with family members or children, and 29% had visits from partners.
– Respondents in the Maryland Returning Home study who were in touch with their close family and intimate partners were more likely to be employed once they were released from prison.
– Illinois Returning Home respondents who felt as if their community was a good and safe place to live were less likely to return to prison and more likely to become employed compared to those who felt as though their communities were unsafe or characterized by low social capital.
All information was provided by the Research Findings from the Urban Institute’s Prisoner Re-entry Portfolio. View it online here: http://www.urban.org/research/publication/understanding-challenges-prisoner-reentry/view/full_report