Rose’s Good Company is pleased to announce its continued commitment to support programs for ex-convicts. Her tenacity has proven to be extremely effective as she has helped to advocate, rehabilitate, house and find employment for the newly released. Rose’s work has inspired so many that she regularly receives unconditional support and help from these individuals who she refers to as, ‘clients’.
- Job Placement and Training
- Providing basic support such as resources to secure housing, food, community support
Six years ago, Michigan’s corrections crisis became a major public policy issue. The prison population was growing rapidly, as were the costs to taxpayers. Thousands of prisoners were returning to their communities on parole or after completing sentences with unacceptable and sometimes dangerous results: nearly half were back in prison within two years. Michigan was investing in Corrections at the expense of priorities such as education, health care and economic development.
Each year in Michigan, more than 10,000 prisoners are released; 8,500 of them are paroled and over 1,500 will be returned as parole violators within 12 months of release. More than 3,600 will return to prison within four years and for an average stay of two years. Returning offenders cost the state of Michigan $112 million every year.
When men and women leave prison and return home, they are confronted with an array of challenges, such as securing stable living arrangements, finding employment, and avoiding criminal activity. Perhaps a less obvious factor that may affect their success is the nature of the place to which they return, specifically the local community area or the neighborhood and its distinctive characteristics. Both the need and cost of housing and the availability and proximity of jobs in areas where ex-prisoners return, may influence post-release outcomes. Accessibility of social services, such as health care, mental health services, and substance abuse treatment, is likely to affect their reentry experience and subsequent recidivism.
Statistics from an Urban Institute publication, Returning Home: Understanding the Challenges of Prisoner Reentry, indicate the need for support for recovery from substance abuse and developing a new, law-abiding lifestyle. It cites that a substantial number of released prisoners are re-convicted or rearrested for new crimes, many within the first six months of release. Findings show that within six months of release, roughly one-third (32 percent) had been rearrested for at least one new crime; 10 percent had been re-convicted for a new crime, and 16 percent had been re-confined to prison or jail for a new crime conviction or technical violation. Those with substance use or histories and who engage in substance use after release are at a higher risk to recidivate.
Rose’s Good Company’s Approach
RGC takes a holistic approach in identifying the needs that will best help ex-offenders transition into the community at its Community Re-enter Center. With RGC, ex-offenders are provided in prison orientation, as well as individual support, and anger management sessions. The program links formerly incarcerated men and women to community resources, such as parenting to adults, life link services and substance abuse treatment. The prisoner Re-Entry Services program provides services for all ex-offenders, regardless of offense or parole status.
Helping ex-prisoners navigate the challenges of re-entering society is a daunting task. To be successful, inmates need to start preparing for reentry long before they walk out of the prison gates. And once they leave, they will need a strong network of support in the communities they return to. They must have access to jobs, transportation, housing, education and medical care. They will have to reconnect with their families and learn to function appropriately in a culture far different from prison and with technology far beyond their experience. Government alone cannot provide all these services.
But even beyond these practical needs, ex-offenders will need the emotional support, encouragement and accountability that only a caring community can provide. They will need mentors to help them stay away from past behaviors and embrace a productive lifestyle.
Mentoring / Peer Support
RGC provides mentors/peers for the program participants. These mentors, most of whom are ex-prisoners themselves, act as coaches and encourage the students to stick with the heavy demands of the program. The mentors attempt to keep the participants in compliance with their uniquely tailored transitional plans. They also serve as role models of individuals who have successfully transitioned to the community.
The philosophy of mentoring is to build strong moral values and provide positive role models for ex-offenders returning to communities through coaching and guidance. Most ex-offenders leave prison feeling insecure and without a positive support group willing to offer acceptance. Mentors can provide the understanding and acceptance so desperately needed by the ex-offender, which can lower the stigma and anxieties that arise before and after release. Mentors can provide a hospitable place where ex-offenders can feel welcomed as part of the community. This mentor-mentee relationship can lead to a sense of normalization.
The RGC program has achieved extraordinary results. Ex-offenders receive intense one-on-one services and incarcerated men and women actively seek out the services of Rose’s Good Company. Currently, RGC makes monthly deposits into the accounts of inmates serving life sentences. This service is extended to those individuals who are estranged from their family or have lost family through death. Funds are used to secure their personal needs for the month.