Re-entry with dignity

In response to the Oct, 7 article on the re-entry program in Anchorage

There where comments made about The Department of Corrections’ concerns over the cost of incarceration and cost to families when inmates are released and then reincarcerated due to lack of support systems being available in the community; I would like to look at Adult Probation/Parole as such a support system, but experience has taught me that this is not always the case, and that family ties that might encourage a departure from past criminal behaviours, and ways of thinking are actually discouraged, especially when those connections are out of state, and would require an Interstate Compact to be fully effective.

Parolees leaving incarceration are faced with many difficulties: employment and housing being just two of them, there is also the need for positive social connections that would help strengthen the parolee in their attempts to lead a life free from the spector of reincarceration. The Parolee needs to rewrite their entire way of thinking: jails and halfway houses, due to the nature of their inhabitants, encourage a set of beliefs that are counter-productive to the goal of lowering recidivism. Positive family support, if available, should help change those belief systems, if coupled with the support provided by both substance abuse treatment and a change in social peer group.

Adult Probation/Parole should be assisting their clients in re-adjusting to life outside of incarceration, looking at what the needs are and addressing them, not in an antagonistic way, but in a way that recognizes the inherent dignity of the individuals involved, with the assistance of not just local support organizations, but of the families, and positive peer support, if available, whether in the form of a 12-step program, church group, or other entity that would be a positive source of change in the individual’s way of thinking, not just about criminal behaviour, but ultimately how the individuals think of themselves. Without a sense of personal dignity, the individual’s motivations to not reoffend remain external, when they need to be internal.

Shaun McMahon

Gastineau Human Services resident

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