Original Article from WestTexasTribune.com
“Nearly all of the more than 2.1 million people incarcerated in the United States will eventually be released.
Re-entry is the process of transition that these individuals, predominantly male and disproportionately African American experience from prison or jail back into the community. While prison re-entry has always occurred since the institutionalization of correctional facilities have existed, there are more people being released from correctional spaces and places on much larger scales today than ever before in the history of correction in this country.
Who Benefits When…?
• The number of people released from prison increased 350% over the past 20 years
• More than 700,000 people are released annually from American prisons
• More than 7 million different individuals are released each year from United States jails
• On any given day in America, at least 1 in 32 adults in this country was in jail or prison, or on parole or probation in 2002
• Approximately 2 out of every 3 people released from prison in the United States are re-arrested within 3 years of their release.
People are released from prison and jails with complexed needs.
Re-Entry Needs Assessments
• 3 out of 4 have substance abuse problems, but
• Only 10 percent state prisons and 3 percent in local jails receive formal treatment prior to release.
• More than 55 percent of incarcerated parents have a child under the age of 18 years and nearly 2 percent of all United States children had a parent in prison in 1999
• More than 2 out 3 prisoners do not have a high school diploma nor a GED. Only about 1 out of 3 gets vocational training at any time during their incarceration
• More than half of all releasees lived in poverty and deprivated communities prior to their incarceration
• More than 1 out of 3 jail inmates reported some physical or mental disability
• More than 80% of all prisoners released from prison is under some form of community supervision
Releasees return to communities that are ill equipped to provide services to support their potential success
In Baltimore City, nearly 70% of all releasees return to 6 zones which has a high degree of crimes, drugs, death, injury and social economics, political, spiritual, cultural and educational, health disparities within these predominately African American War Zones.
Data indicates that there are major gaps in services between the needs of the releasees and the availability of services, programs practices in need of policy reforms via community advocacy and community engagement for systematic changes.
Re-entry success or failure has implication for public safety and public health the wellbeing and welfare of our children, youth and families, community health. The national or local recidivism rate translates into thousand of new crimes committed each year by repeated offenders. State taxpayers in Maryland spent more than 160 million dollars annually for corrections, the nation spends more than 200 billion annually for correction. This level of funding by taxpayers will constantly elevate until at least five areas of needs to be addressed socially such as Health, Education, Employment, Economical Development and Criminal Justice Disparities.
No great improvement in the lot of mankind is possible until a great change tables place in the fundamental constitution of their modes of thought.
The primary mandate and responsibility of any society is to ensure the health and ell being of all its citizenry. Despite the best efforts of many federal, state, and local governmental initiatives, the proliferation and continued prevalence of crimes, drugs, and violence by repeated offenders continues at an epidemic rates.
The social environment in which people live as well as their lifestyles and behaviors can influence the incidence of juvenile delinquency and adult criminality within targeted populations. However, during the past two decades research has provided evidence to support the notion the populations (ex-offenders in this case) can be engaged and must participate in their behavioral modification process to promote healthy choices to deter delinquent, criminal thinking that precedes juvenile delinquent and adult criminal behaviors.
The Maryland Re-entry Partnership has influenced, participated in fundamental changes regarding the political structure of key institutions when it comes to providing services to the ex-offender population. However, behavioral modification can not and will not be managed by threat and coercion. The challenges to the Re-Entry change efforts are numerous. However, I will emphasize only a few. First, and foremost, the solutions must be comprehensive, via including the dynamics and essentials of the therapeutic value of credible ex-offenders who have community visibility in the streets and are not poster faces in the suits. While it’s not intended to belittle the efforts of anyone, the traditional methodology used for implementing change or improvement often reflects the following steps which research(program evaluation) indicates does not work in and of itself. Step 1 – Identify the problem from an outsider’s viewpoint. Step 2. Bring in an expert from out of town who seems to understand the problem best, or read in a book about the latest and greatest “new” solution to the problem. Step 3. (a) Spend tremendous amounts of time, energy, and money trying to overcome the resistance caused by step 2 and (b) make someone else’s solution work without engaging the targeted population or energizing them (ex-offenders) to replicate their successes throughout their cohort groups/peers
FOXO’s paradigm shift has realized and personally actualized the realism that behaviors will not change until the thinking changes. Based on our experiences, we believe that all behaviors are learned behaviors. People learn what they live, and live what they learn. One would have to be in an advanced state of denial not to recognize that dealing with the true cause of a problem often involves understand and promoting attitudinal changes in people. An individual (ex-offenders) behavior is directly related to his/her state of mind.
Society tends to meet any situation by reorganizing and creating the illusion of progress while producing confusing and inefficiency because they only addressed the symptoms of the real underlying issues. As with symptoms of physical illness, if the doctor only treats the symptoms and doesn’t treat the real cause of the problem the symptoms return.
The underlying cause of hard issues is often found in the soft issues of the ex-offender which are human issues “fundamental attitudinal or mindset: issues. The soft issues consist of less tangible aspects that are much more subjective and less easily measurable or mapped than the hard issues. In reality, traditional service providers are less prepared or experienced in dealing with the recidivist ex-offenders and their innate softskill issues. For FOXO’s purpose, we use attitude and mindset interchangeably because the meaning is quite similar. Many re-entry programs do not seem willing or equipped to directly address the real issues of their ex-offenders mindset beyond the particular services that they try to provide. Too often, too many of the politically connected institutions in the business of re-entry tend to think of hard issues (employment, housing, recovery treatment, etc. as more important than the soft issues (thinking, self esteem, cultural values, mental health, etc.)
In summary, these providers tend to deal with soft issues very poorly and only as a last resort, often when it is too late to make a real difference. Re-Entry business cannot hope to overcome or overpower problems of chronic repeated offenders simply by instituting new programs systems, or police to address old behaviors without engaging the ex-offenders to participate in their cognitive restructuring self help therapeutic model.
Note: We are suggesting and requesting that if you want to see the breath and the depth of the work FOXO has done as an organization, please enter Fraternal Order of X-Offenders in the Google.Com search engine.
We encourage the West Texas Tribune Readers to dialogue with us personally to provide their comments, questions, suggestions to enhance FOXO’s ability to provide service to our national community. Also, we encourage people, agencies and organizations who are providing services to be a guest on our radio program via telephone. We also encourage you to call into FOXO radio program on WBOL 1010 AM at 410-481-1010 on Sundays 2-4pm Eastern Time.
Orders for DVDs, requests for seminar presentations or training, direct all questions, comments and concerns to:
Fraternal Order of X-Offenders, Inc. (F.O.X.O)
Proper Education Always Corrects Error (P.E.A.C.E)
P.O. Box 2241
Baltimore, MD 21202-2241