What is “Reentry”?

A two-part answer…


The term “reentry” is thrown around like a frisbee throughout social media platforms, online groups, articles, political arenas, etc. We all may have different definitions, but let me give you an ex-felon’s perspective…


I served 11 years (11 ½ to be exact). I knew I was going to be away for a long time. I had two choices. I could sit around (like many do) and shoot the breeze, tell “war” stories, and waste my time away. Or, I could start facing the reality of my situation. What got me to that point in my life where I gave up my freedom? Where did I go wrong? How was I going to leave prison and be a better person in the end? What did I need to do to leave prison and be successful? These are important questions the incarcerated individual needs to a ask him or herself.


The first step to “reentry” is to recognize the “problem”. Whatever the problem may be. This could be anything. Taking responsibility for my crimes was one. Some have drug or alcohol addictions that must be addressed. Mental health may be another. The list goes on…

Preparing for the outside is imperative for one’s success once they leave prison. Where does it start? On the outside? No. It starts in prison. If a person is waiting for the DOC or BOP of any state to take a personal vested interest in the individual it is not going to happen. I tell each individual I write to to invest in themselves. Start reading or get an education whatever level it may be. Start addressing your personal problems and reach out to others for help. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. I did. If I had had it all together then I wouldn’t have been in prison in the first place. Start preparing for the future because for 94% of the prison population that will be a reality one day.


Second, “reentry”, is, well, reentry back into society. This is the hard part. Does the individual have a place to live? Money? Job prospects? Court fines or fees that need to be paid off? Support? I could fill up a whole book. These are the issues to me that need to be addressed by whoever it may be. If man or woman leaves prison unprepared and has limited options, we can stop wasting our breath on ideas, vents, complaints, etc. about the “system” because it will not matter. More than likely the individual will fail. Not all mind you. There are success stories and

those are the ones we need to hear to come up with real solutions.


It is a scary thing leaving prison. It is even scarier when you don’t have a plan or no support. It doesn’t take much to give up hope and return back to old behaviors. I learned in Economics when I went to college that human beings can deal with anything but uncertainty. This is especially true when a man or woman leaves prison. Ask someone on the inside yourself.

Reentry programs in prison should address how the individual is going to prepare for the outside. Whether that be job training, counseling, etc. These issues need to be addressed BEFORE they leave. The other part of reentry is simple. I have been released…now what? Correct the problems on the inside and then have the opportunity once released to show that you have changed. The “basics” are needed. This should be the focus for many who are involved in reform issues.


I have a lot of ideas and I hope to share them soon. I would love to hear what others have to say because this is important. There is a lot riding on these topics. Reentry starts with self. It continues on the outside on a daily basis. I can truly say I am reformed…


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