The moment is finally here. This is the moment your loved one is coming home. For years your loved one has been told when they should eat, what they are to wear and how to act. This is all about to change. When they walk out those prison gates, they are stepping into another world. For the over 600,000 men and women coming home each year, this is a milestone in their lives.
This new world, although normal to us, may be complete foreign to a returning citizen. As time has elapsed in their prison cell, the world outside has been quickly evolving. From new technologies and platforms, to new careers and opportunities, this new world they are stepping into may seem overwhelming and discouraging. For your loved one who is coming home, then it is crucial they get all the support they can.
Connect with Parole Officer. As many men and women who are coming home will have parole, it can help for you to connect with them yourself. This will not only serve as a connection to their parole officer, you can serve as a bridge to help them start their new life with a strong start.
Make a Housing plan. It has been said that the first 72 hours of one’s re-entry is the most crucial. Housing, food and other essential needs can be hard to come by if you find yourself all alone. In some situations, staying with family can be a great way to help a returning citizen. Because this is not always ideal or an option, there are many housing options available. For assistance on housing, read about housing options.
Ask for help. There are many local and national non-profit organizations committed to helping returning citizens with a fresh start. From housing, to job training and assistance, there are many resources available to give your loved one a new lease on life.
Decide for themself. For many, years of incarceration can often leave men and women feeling incapable of making their own decisions. It’s important to balance making decisions for them with giving them freedom to make their own decisions. Supporting your loved one by helping them decide for themselves in a healthy environment is thus one of the best ways to support them.
Set boundaries. It can be tempting to revert to old friends, habits and patterns. If these are toxic environments, then, they could lead back to the same things that led them to prison. Helping your loved one set boundaries in their lives is essential.
Seek out support groups. Although it can be liberating to come home from prison, it can also feel lonely and isolating. Connecting to support groups and communities is one way to help with their re-entry. Support groups like Celebrate Recovery and TYRO are some programs that are designed to help returning citizens thrive in their new world.
Overall, amidst the overwhelming flurry of emotions it can be easy to overlook these steps. Unfortunately, there are many men and women who recidivate (go back to to prison) because they didn’t make a plan for their re-entry. Don’t make the mistake of failing to plan your loved one’s re-entry.