Reentry into society for individuals released from prison is usually a challenging and complex task. The lives of individuals released from prison are usually marked by instability and confusion as a result of challenges of gaining acceptance within their respective communities. Collaboration between various professions, disciplines, and jurisdictional boundaries is critical towards prison reentry. This has resulted in productive and explosive interactions and partnerships that involve parties such as law enforcement, probation officials, mental health clinics, faith-based entities, vic6timim advocacy groups, and business communities. Providing prisoners with avenues for reentry into their communities is critical for ensuring successful assimilation and prevention of crime.
It is assumed that successful reentry results in optimized public safety such as reduction levels of recidivism and long-term reintegration of individuals released from incarceration. The outcomes of successful reintegration include high levels of formerly incarcerated individuals in social activities and institutions such as families, the labor force, education institutions, religious institutions, and communities (Mauer 12). Thus, there are immense social and financial benefits accruable to the society from the establishment of reentry strategies as provided by the Guest House.
Reentry strategies such as the Guesthouse include providing proximity for these formerly incarcerated individuals in terms of accessing positive social supports such as friends, family, employers, faith based entities and critical social support structures. Activities provided in the guesthouse are critical towards providing the formerly incarcerated individuals with adequate social support that is vital for their successful reentry. Reentry strategies as provided in the guesthouse are important towards improving and strengthening the social networks. They provide substantial gains such as enhanced safety levels, security, between public health services, and reduced financial burdens imposed on taxpayer.
It is evident that the prison industrial complex approach as utilized by the government has had numerous negative effects on the incarcerated individuals and more so their respective social networks. The American population under the imprisonment program is significant and growing rapidly as the government uses it as a means of crime control. The program provided to formerly incarcerated individuals at the Guesthouse is critical towards providing such parties with an opportunity to gain new skills and information on how to reestablish or build new social relationships and networks (Davis et al, 35).
Poverty and social discrimination are critical factors that are highly correlated to the growing number of incarcerated individuals in American prisons. This is an individuation of the ineffectiveness of the entire criminal justice system in rehabilitation of individuals found guilty of various crimes. Furthermore, research is indicative that amerce experiences a high incidence of recidivism as incarceration serves as a platform for criminals to gain new skills for engaging in criminal activities.
It is estimated that the United States prison system experiences inmate population increases of an estimated 50,000 to 80,000 annually. This is indicative that the criminal justice system is reliant on incarceration as a primary of punishment and deterrent against criminal activities in the country. My interactions with former prison inmates were critical in understanding the various challenges and consequences of inefficiencies within the criminal justice system. It is also evident that incarceration has high incidences amongst minority population, which makes race a critical issue in the administration of criminal justice. It was also saddening to hear incidences of unfair representation amongst parties as a result of their social backgrounds and lack of ability to acquire effective legal recourse.
The premise of the prison industrial complex is viable given that administration of justice is seemingly favorable to specific individuals based on race, social backgrounds, and financial ability. It presumably only provides favor and affirms the authority of individuals who hold power in society. The Guesthouse provides support to individuals who are seeking successful reentry into their respective communities. A majority of these individuals are drawn from poor backgrounds given that the effects of poverty and crime. This adds to the fact that the criminal justice system favors the rich, successful, and racial majority by providing them with enhanced access and fair administration of criminal justice (Davis et al, 43).
Research indicates that more than 60% of urban inmates in national level prisons have not been convicted as they are awaiting trial or arraignment in court. This is indicative of lapses and inefficiencies in the criminal justice system in terms of providing offenders with opportunities for justice. This can be termed as a flaw within the due process given that it is imperative for presumed offenders to be arraigned in court to verify their wrongdoing. In my interactions with a number of former prison inmates, it was evident that they resented the criminal justice system given that it is presumed as an unfair institution
Reentry into the society was a critical issue that I was able to learn and understanding after my visit to the Guesthouse. It is a critical transition process for former inmates given that it plays a critical role in incidences of recidivism. Challenges towards reentry as faced on an individual level include limitations of marketable work experiences, low vocational skills and education, health related issues, mental instability, substance abuse histories and communicable diseases.
A majority of such problems co-occur given tat they are exacerbated as a result of the presence of other problems. Finding employment was a challenge for a majority of the released parties whom I managed to engage. They noted that finding and maintaining employment was an essential component of successful reentry into the community (Lamb and Women of York Correctional Institution 36). Research is indicative that employment is a critical component of ensuring reduced levels of re-offending whereas the high wages from employment are a deterrent against engagement in criminal activities. On the other hand, it is important to note that formerly incarcerated individuals are usually faced by significant challenges in finding and maintaining legitimate employment because of their limited vocational skills and work experience, limited education, poor attitudes and a general reluctance by organizations and other employers to hire individuals with convictions.
Such challenges are compounded by incarceration and arrest periods. During such periods, individuals may sever their professional and social networks that could impede legal employment upon release from prison. Additionally, educational deficiencies amongst incarcerated parties are an impediment towards successful and legal employment upon release from prison. Another issue of concern for formerly incarcerated individuals is substance abuse. Substance abuse especially amongst former prisoners and currently incarcerated individuals is a significant impediment towards successful reentry into the society.
Research indicates that a small portion of substance abusers in incarceration usually seek rehabilitation during their jail terms. Addition, those who are provided with access of substance abuse treatment programs in prisons, a small number of them usually explore alternative drug abuse programs upon release from prison. Research indicates that the various prison-initiated drug abuse treatment programs are highly effective in reduction of criminal activity associated with drug dependency. This should also be met by after release programs to solidify gains in terms of reducing and elimination of drug dependency amongst former prisoners.
From the guesthouse, one is able to understand the various challenges and complexities of reentry into society by former prisoners. It is also indicative of the need for more government-initiated activities aimed at ensuring reduced and minimal incidences of reoccurrence amongst former prisoners (Alexander 46). This can be achieved by providing them with effective, efficient and result oriented programs such as drug treatment, vocational training, and education programs. These are critical in providing released individuals with avenues for gaining skills, and knowledge critical for competing in modern society.
Furthermore, it eliminates the need for re-offending given that they are provided with appropriate avenues for engaging in entrepreneurial activities, moving away from drug abuse that is highly correlated to criminal activity and provision of avenues to gain social skills for reestablishment or development of new social networks. The visit has been effective in providing me with an understanding of the deficiencies that are currently plaguing the entire criminal justice system in the United States. This can be remedied through active engagement of the public in redevelopment of the system to provide effective punishment and rehabilitation avenues for convicted parties and those released from prison.
The appraisal and restructuring the criminal justice system, based on the talks I had with some individuals, can be achieved through a concerted effort between government agencies, faith based entities, the civil service, and public to provide effective and long-term solutions to common problems being faced by the incarcerated populations. This is critical towards fair and rapid execution of justice.
Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow. The New Press, 2012. Print.
Lamb, Wally and the Women of York Correctional Institution. Couldn’t Keep it to Myself: Testimonies from our Imprisoned Sisters. New York: Harper Perennial, 2003. Print.
Mauer, Marc. Race to Incarceration: A Graphic Re-telling. New Press, 2013. Print.
Davis, Lois M, Robert Bozick, Jennifer L. Steele, Jessica M. Saunders, and Jeremy N. V. Miles. Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education: A Meta-Analysis of Programs That Provide Education to Incarcerated Adults, 2013. Print.
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