Most people coming out of prison and jail are eager to avoid imprisonment again. Having “done their time,” most of them learned their lesson. They are eager to prove their worth and earn acceptance once again. But if society is not willing to forgive them, or hasn’t the capacity for reintegration programs, the success rate for reentry diminishes.
In recent years, a proliferation of healthy responses to criminal activity has impacted community safety and health. Reentry programs help locate safe housing for returnees, drug free and supervised for some. Employers are recruited and incentivized to hire those with a criminal past. Medical and mental health treatment providers collaborate with churches and other nonprofits to provide an effective web of support.
The cost to incarcerate people is far greater than it is to find a community solution. In the public’s effort to protect itself, it is inadvertently increasing the chances that the returning person will fail. If they can’t belong, they will never again be whole. If we can’t accept them, even sex offenders, the community will never heal.