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  #1  
Old 09-04-2003, 06:03 PM
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Default Article: Transition After Jail Tough For Ex-inmates

TRANSITION AFTER JAIL TOUGH FOR EX-INMATES
September 3, 2003

By Darrell Laurant

Lynchburg News and Advance

The proverbial "debt to society" isn't always paid when an inmate is released from prison or jail. Very often, interest has accrued at the other end - sometimes, literally.

"If you have fines that are unpaid when you go to jail," said Sherman Calloway of the ex-offender support group Virginia CARES, "they're still there when you come out. And the clock keeps ticking - most of the time, interest has been building up.

"So what happens is, an ex-offender is released and finds he or she can't get any credit because of those fines. And all they have when they leave prison is $25."

Moreover, if you have a felony on your record in Virginia:

You can't live in subsidized housing for at least five years. If your family happens to be living there when you get out, you can't live with them.

You can't receive food stamps for five years if your offense was drug-related.

You can't vote, at least not until you petition the governor.

You are barred from working in a wide range of occupations, including some types of health care, banks and schools.

You can't go hunting (even if your offense was non-violent and did not involve firearms), an especially painful penalty in rural areas of Virginia.

"Another problem," Calloway said, "is that since Sept. 11, we've been having a real hard time getting ID cards made up for people who are coming out, especially if they no longer have their birth certificate."

Calloway said his organization, which operates in conjunction with the Lynchburg Community Action Group and is partially state funded, served more than 500 former prisoners from July 2002 to July 2003.

"They're referred to us by probation officers and some other organizations," Calloway said, "and we help them with clothing, financial assistance, housing and employment."

The latter is the cornerstone of rehabilitation, but often difficult for an ex-inmate - especially an ex-felon - to grasp.

"We work with men who are in recovery," said Stephanie Beckner, director of the Gateway at 12th and Church streets, "and usually a drug or alcohol problem and trouble with the law go hand-in-hand. So we do get ex-offenders, but they've been through their initial treatment before they get to us, and they're very closely monitored when they're here. Even so, it's extremely hard to find work for them.

"I've been all over town for some of these guys, and nothing. Of the 11 men on our short-term floor, only two are currently employed."

Complicating matters for short-term Gateway residents is their 10 p.m. curfew, which can eliminate them from consideration for jobs with rotating shiftwork.

Gloria Slayden, who is living at the Courtland Center in downtown Lynchburg while she completes ARISE drug and alcohol treatment, has a similar problem.

"I got a job in a restaurant," she said, "but I'm not able to get that many hours, and I'm barely making enough for the $110 a week it costs to live here. They have a meeting every Tuesday night where I'm living, and I always dread it, because I know the subject of rent is going to come up."

For the majority of released inmates, drug and alcohol treatment is critical - and for many of those, the window of opportunity before relapse is small. Unfortunately, although many inmates are paroled under the condition that they check into a rehab center, that's not as easy as it seems in Central Virginia.

"We have 22 beds in our residential center," said Augustus Fagan of Central Virginia Community Services, which administers the ARISE program, "and for every bed, there's someone waiting for it. Right now, we don't have an opening until October."

Meanwhile, emerging inmates may have "dried out" from the physical effects of a drug or alcohol habit, but not the psychological effects.

"They have drug treatments in prison," said Community Services spokeswoman Christy Johnson, "but they're usually not very effective."

Slayden said she tried unsuccessfully to go back to a better-paying job she had held before serving nine months at the Blue Ridge Regional Jail.

"I had gone to court one day, got convicted and got locked right up," she said. "When I went back to my work after I got out, they said they wouldn't rehire me because I didn't give them two weeks notice."

Robert Flood, a former basketball star at E.C. Glass who served time in the 1980s, recalled: "What I kept hearing was, 'Thanks, but we've got somebody who's more qualified.' I wound up working at the YWCA, scrubbing floors on my hands and knees. But at least I was working."

Some inmates are directed to their home community under conditions of parole. Others, however, face a difficult choice - return home, where they may get financial help from family members but face temptations from their old crowd, or try a new place where they have no past, but also no support.

"I'm originally from Altavista," said Slayden, "but I'm not going back there. It would be too much, because there's always people who don't want you to succeed. I'm proud of what I've accomplished so far."

Gerard Hutcherson, on the other hand, never considered leaving Lynchburg - even though being the brother of Mayor Carl Hutcherson added to his embarrassment over having served 12 months for habitual driving offenses.

"I never got any DUIs or anything like that," he said, "but I kept getting caught driving without a license. Eventually, they label you a habitual offender, and the second time you get caught after that, it's a mandatory 12 months."

One reason Hutcherson was driving without a license was because he didn't have the money to pay some earlier fines.

"When I got out, though, I paid off all $2,400 of it," he said. "Then I started rebuilding my life."

While in BRRJ, Hutcherson started a Bible study and worked with a fatherhood group. "I felt like Judge Perrow gave me 12 months in jail, but God gave me 12 months to change," he said.

He also realized how ill-equipped many of his fellow inmates were for the outside world.

"I met quite a few people who couldn't read and write," Hutcherson said. "They'd just learned how to fake it. These are people who really need to be able to feel a sense of accomplishment, because they haven't had that."

Self-esteem can be difficult to come by for a released inmate, however, especially if he or she receive daily reminders of their past.

"We get some hateful looks from people when we get out," said a BRRJ inmate named Diane. "I don't think people realize that not everyone in jail is a bad person. Some of them are even innocent."

That self-esteem issue is why former Lynchburg City Council member Gilliam Cobbs has lobbied relentlessly over the past 10 years to change the commonwealth's law barring felons from voting.

"We have a awful lot of people in jail," Cobbs said recently, "so I guess that law can't be much of a deterrent."

Current Gov. Mark Warner did reduce the pardon application from a dozen pages to a single page, Cobbs said, and pledged to answer any request within six months.

"That's half a loaf, which I guess is better than none," Cobbs said. "I'd like to see voting rights restored automatically when a person is released, and I'm still working for that. Not letting someone vote sends the wrong message to them. They're still having to pay taxes, so that's really taxation without representation."

Not only do ex-offenders not have any effective lobbyists, but those with felony records can't vote.

"These are people who are very poorly organized, and have no political clout," Cobbs pointed out. "That makes it very hard to get some of these laws changed that were passed so that legislators could appear to be tough on crime."

That lack of clout has become quite evident to groups like the Interfaith Outreach Association (which teaches Progressive Release classes in the Blue Ridge Regional Jail) and Virginia CARES.

"There's nowhere near enough funding," Calloway said. "These people need a lot of help."

Or, as Beckner put it: "I just wish somebody would give some of these guys a chance."

This article does deal with Virginia, however, I thought it would give some idea as to what ex-inmates face nationwide.

Patti
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Old 09-04-2003, 07:12 PM
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I am sure it is a nationwide problem. It appears that is is very difficult to re-build your life and start new with so many obstacles. I am starting to deal with some of this and it makes me understand why some people probably just give up and end up back in jail. Seems like you can't win.
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Old 09-04-2003, 07:26 PM
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allybay,

I have been out since March, and though I have had a "reasonable" time at it compared to other. Much of the readjustment is a pain. I cannot drive at this time, Linda has to take me to work everyday. In Virginia if you don't have a license, you cant own a car, so, Linda now owns our car. In fact, she pretty, much owns everything to protect our assets.

Yes, you can win, if you are persistant, and have faith, I know it is hard from our experiences, but, have a little faith and confidence in you, and your families abilitites and stay onboard PTO, for the encouragement and companionship.

God Bless,

Patti

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Old 09-04-2003, 07:39 PM
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Thank you for the advice. I guess I am having a really bad day today with our (mine and my husband's) situation. I am so worried about him getting back into life with me and the real world. I just want things to be like they were before, and right now I feel like that may be very, very hard. But I'm sure you are right about having faith. I am just real low on faith today. One thing I do have faith in, is him. I think that after his experience, he will do all that he can to provide us with the wonderful life he has promised me. Thanks again
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Old 09-13-2003, 05:28 PM
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This article was wonderfully insightful. I am tossing with the reality of my fiance coming hom soon and I worry about the adjustment period, should he go to a halfway house for the emotional sake of our four year old so. It has been mind boggling. So any information I come across here helps me feel better about making an informed decision.
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Old 09-14-2003, 02:56 PM
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My question is, what kind of help is there for those who are getting ready to reenter society? I know that in some states, there are some stepdown facilities that have counselors who can help these inmates. But is that adequate help for the inmate to at least get a start in society?

I've heard stories of prisoners being released with the clothes on their back and enough transportation to get to their next destination. There's got to be a better support system out there somewhere, but how can these guys access it? What about the counselors in the prison, don't they do something like discharge planning for the prisoner so that they'll have an easier transition into society and also to help decrease recividism? What programs are out there?
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Old 09-21-2003, 01:15 PM
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And the sick thing about all this, is in some cases I have seen inmates that if you don't have a plan ~ job, housing, everything you need already set up when it comes time for your parole hearing, then you are denied parole. It can be very frustrating. There should be more help for them out there for sure!!! Question is, if there is, where in the world would you look?
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Old 12-11-2004, 12:41 PM
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Old 06-17-2007, 10:16 AM
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Well think about it.. when you get out you basically have NO rights as a human being what so ever.. it's ridiculous.
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Old 06-19-2007, 08:34 AM
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I have been out for 8 months. I was in a Federal Camp for three years on a white collar bit. What is so difficult is finding work and putting up with poor credit as a result of the restitution and judgment. Hang in there and look for groups that support ex-offenders. 2nd chances is new and I am proud to be a part of it. Keep praying and seek out a good church for support.

mark
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Old 07-13-2007, 05:51 AM
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Imagine being denied parole because someone who has spent maybe years in the prison system from knowing exactly where they will be working and living. What are you supposed to say.....hey, I am currently in jail, would you hire me? Can I live in your apartment or house?

They make it sound like such a simple thing to do but.......we make it harder for them to adjust and to even get released. It is hard to get anything done while in prison......look how long it takes the prison system to get anything done and they expect miracles for our loved ones.

I think either our congressional leaders or those who make these decisions get a reality check and really listen to the inmates and their families with their concerns. I mean do they really care or do they just make good political words to make people think they care. If they really cared about our recividism rates they would take a second look at what they are expecting from our loved ones in my opinion unless they are trying to build separate communities to house those who leave the prison system yet the family is separated.....so who wins? Is it just about the money?
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Old 07-14-2007, 01:38 PM
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Default REcidicism is just a word that means REvolving Door

Quote:
Originally Posted by pmitch10
I think either our congressional leaders or those who make these decisions get a reality check and really listen to the inmates and their families with their concerns. I mean do they really care or do they just make good political words to make people think they care. If they really cared about our recividism rates they would take a second look at what they are expecting from our loved ones in my opinion unless they are trying to build separate communities to house those who leave the prison system yet the family is separated.....so who wins? Is it just about the money?
That's it in a nutshell..."politicians" are too busy trying to build prisons in their states so that they can have 1) new jobs for their communities
2) lowered taxes 3) economic stimulation through new housing, increased commerce and congressional appropriations...

Ex-cons and inmates are commodities...they're like the little plastic properties in a Monopoly Game. ...the fact that their chances of returning to prison are fairly high is like watching your stocks go up....especially if you own stock in CCA et. al. ...in the automobile industry it's called "designed obsolescence." That means that you'll always have to buy another car. Aways have to build another prison.

Be Good,
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Old 12-12-2007, 06:04 PM
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Please call Project LIFT (Life and Independence for Tomorrow) at 1-866-616-2648. We are a non-profit organization dedicating to providing shelter, jobs skills, assessments, placement, rehabilitation, mental health counseling for individuals and families, transitional services in preparation for release etc. We are located in Houston, TX. You may also request a package of information by sending me an email.

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Old 01-02-2008, 10:36 PM
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this has been very insightful. thank you
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Old 02-09-2008, 12:15 AM
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thanks for the heads up on project lift. will definately call tomorrow
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Old 02-09-2008, 07:22 PM
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are you only helping texians or is this a nationwide project?
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Old 02-11-2008, 05:53 AM
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Project LIFT...do you have chapters in other states? Interesting...
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Old 09-10-2010, 03:44 PM
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I have read your thread and from whatI read your passion is strong, thank you.. I have put together a web site that you could help me with. It is B.I.T.S. ( Back In To Society ) and it is designed to have people post information wherever they are about jobs, support groups, schools, training programs and anything else that could help an ex offender get back in to society. I would love to have you take a look and if you feel it support this cause..... Thank you.. it is 3 w's backintosociety . ning . com

Quote:
Originally Posted by FriscoLady View Post
TRANSITION AFTER JAIL TOUGH FOR EX-INMATES
September 3, 2003

By Darrell Laurant

Lynchburg News and Advance

The proverbial "debt to society" isn't always paid when an inmate is released from prison or jail. Very often, interest has accrued at the other end - sometimes, literally.

"If you have fines that are unpaid when you go to jail," said Sherman Calloway of the ex-offender support group Virginia CARES, "they're still there when you come out. And the clock keeps ticking - most of the time, interest has been building up.

"So what happens is, an ex-offender is released and finds he or she can't get any credit because of those fines. And all they have when they leave prison is $25."

Moreover, if you have a felony on your record in Virginia:

You can't live in subsidized housing for at least five years. If your family happens to be living there when you get out, you can't live with them.

You can't receive food stamps for five years if your offense was drug-related.

You can't vote, at least not until you petition the governor.

You are barred from working in a wide range of occupations, including some types of health care, banks and schools.

You can't go hunting (even if your offense was non-violent and did not involve firearms), an especially painful penalty in rural areas of Virginia.

"Another problem," Calloway said, "is that since Sept. 11, we've been having a real hard time getting ID cards made up for people who are coming out, especially if they no longer have their birth certificate."

Calloway said his organization, which operates in conjunction with the Lynchburg Community Action Group and is partially state funded, served more than 500 former prisoners from July 2002 to July 2003.

"They're referred to us by probation officers and some other organizations," Calloway said, "and we help them with clothing, financial assistance, housing and employment."

The latter is the cornerstone of rehabilitation, but often difficult for an ex-inmate - especially an ex-felon - to grasp.

"We work with men who are in recovery," said Stephanie Beckner, director of the Gateway at 12th and Church streets, "and usually a drug or alcohol problem and trouble with the law go hand-in-hand. So we do get ex-offenders, but they've been through their initial treatment before they get to us, and they're very closely monitored when they're here. Even so, it's extremely hard to find work for them.

"I've been all over town for some of these guys, and nothing. Of the 11 men on our short-term floor, only two are currently employed."

Complicating matters for short-term Gateway residents is their 10 p.m. curfew, which can eliminate them from consideration for jobs with rotating shiftwork.

Gloria Slayden, who is living at the Courtland Center in downtown Lynchburg while she completes ARISE drug and alcohol treatment, has a similar problem.

"I got a job in a restaurant," she said, "but I'm not able to get that many hours, and I'm barely making enough for the $110 a week it costs to live here. They have a meeting every Tuesday night where I'm living, and I always dread it, because I know the subject of rent is going to come up."

For the majority of released inmates, drug and alcohol treatment is critical - and for many of those, the window of opportunity before relapse is small. Unfortunately, although many inmates are paroled under the condition that they check into a rehab center, that's not as easy as it seems in Central Virginia.

"We have 22 beds in our residential center," said Augustus Fagan of Central Virginia Community Services, which administers the ARISE program, "and for every bed, there's someone waiting for it. Right now, we don't have an opening until October."

Meanwhile, emerging inmates may have "dried out" from the physical effects of a drug or alcohol habit, but not the psychological effects.

"They have drug treatments in prison," said Community Services spokeswoman Christy Johnson, "but they're usually not very effective."

Slayden said she tried unsuccessfully to go back to a better-paying job she had held before serving nine months at the Blue Ridge Regional Jail.

"I had gone to court one day, got convicted and got locked right up," she said. "When I went back to my work after I got out, they said they wouldn't rehire me because I didn't give them two weeks notice."

Robert Flood, a former basketball star at E.C. Glass who served time in the 1980s, recalled: "What I kept hearing was, 'Thanks, but we've got somebody who's more qualified.' I wound up working at the YWCA, scrubbing floors on my hands and knees. But at least I was working."

Some inmates are directed to their home community under conditions of parole. Others, however, face a difficult choice - return home, where they may get financial help from family members but face temptations from their old crowd, or try a new place where they have no past, but also no support.

"I'm originally from Altavista," said Slayden, "but I'm not going back there. It would be too much, because there's always people who don't want you to succeed. I'm proud of what I've accomplished so far."

Gerard Hutcherson, on the other hand, never considered leaving Lynchburg - even though being the brother of Mayor Carl Hutcherson added to his embarrassment over having served 12 months for habitual driving offenses.

"I never got any DUIs or anything like that," he said, "but I kept getting caught driving without a license. Eventually, they label you a habitual offender, and the second time you get caught after that, it's a mandatory 12 months."

One reason Hutcherson was driving without a license was because he didn't have the money to pay some earlier fines.

"When I got out, though, I paid off all $2,400 of it," he said. "Then I started rebuilding my life."

While in BRRJ, Hutcherson started a Bible study and worked with a fatherhood group. "I felt like Judge Perrow gave me 12 months in jail, but God gave me 12 months to change," he said.

He also realized how ill-equipped many of his fellow inmates were for the outside world.

"I met quite a few people who couldn't read and write," Hutcherson said. "They'd just learned how to fake it. These are people who really need to be able to feel a sense of accomplishment, because they haven't had that."

Self-esteem can be difficult to come by for a released inmate, however, especially if he or she receive daily reminders of their past.

"We get some hateful looks from people when we get out," said a BRRJ inmate named Diane. "I don't think people realize that not everyone in jail is a bad person. Some of them are even innocent."

That self-esteem issue is why former Lynchburg City Council member Gilliam Cobbs has lobbied relentlessly over the past 10 years to change the commonwealth's law barring felons from voting.

"We have a awful lot of people in jail," Cobbs said recently, "so I guess that law can't be much of a deterrent."

Current Gov. Mark Warner did reduce the pardon application from a dozen pages to a single page, Cobbs said, and pledged to answer any request within six months.

"That's half a loaf, which I guess is better than none," Cobbs said. "I'd like to see voting rights restored automatically when a person is released, and I'm still working for that. Not letting someone vote sends the wrong message to them. They're still having to pay taxes, so that's really taxation without representation."

Not only do ex-offenders not have any effective lobbyists, but those with felony records can't vote.

"These are people who are very poorly organized, and have no political clout," Cobbs pointed out. "That makes it very hard to get some of these laws changed that were passed so that legislators could appear to be tough on crime."

That lack of clout has become quite evident to groups like the Interfaith Outreach Association (which teaches Progressive Release classes in the Blue Ridge Regional Jail) and Virginia CARES.

"There's nowhere near enough funding," Calloway said. "These people need a lot of help."

Or, as Beckner put it: "I just wish somebody would give some of these guys a chance."

This article does deal with Virginia, however, I thought it would give some idea as to what ex-inmates face nationwide.

Patti
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Old 04-18-2011, 09:16 PM
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I met my boyfriend when he came home after doing 5yrs, and he was home for a year and now is back on a po violation. I have never been through this or ever dealt with the prison life being i was married for seveenteen years and met my boyfriend after being divorced for two years. What i have seen is it is hard for them to stay sober and to make it in society. with owing child support and trying to make money and working 65 hours a week to get a check for 25 dollars because child support took it all. I am not sAying he should pay his child support because he should but when idoc has him driving 6 hours a week to check in you need to have more than 25 dollars a week for gas and to eat. And after paying child support , only not to see your children due to not having visitation rights because he is labeled a vo. their needs to be some type of rehabilitation for men whwen they get released from stateville or any prison. They need help reentering in society, I tryed to help him as much as I can but to no afail he went back . Hopefully for a short time since he only has 6 and a half months left of his parole. I pray he gets sober again and gets God helps us through this.. I love him and will never leave him like everyone else has... He is my world and some way I will get him through this and get him the help he needs when he comes home. If anyone knows if their is help for men reentring society in the joliet are please let me know...thank you
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:09 AM
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Earl Smith & Angela Hattery, 2010, Prisoner Reentry and Social Capital: The Long Road to Reintegration

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