The vast majority of people who are sent to prison will be released back into society — but what happens to them then? It’s not something everyone thinks about, but reentering society after incarceration can be a fraught process for many, especially those without family or other support systems waiting for them on the outside.
The reentry experience a former convict has can make all the difference when it comes to whether they return to prison. Criminal Justice Ministry is a St. Louis organization that seeks to support those who were incarcerated and their families as they navigate their return to society.
Tom Casey, CJM’s executive director, told KMOX that too many people are left all on their own after they’re released.
“They are up to their own devices to find housing, to find employment, etc. And we know for many of them, employers are reluctant to hire folks with a record particularly certain types of convictions,” Casey said. “We know that many landlords are reluctant to rent to people who have a history of convictions. And we also know that many families are ill prepared to take care of them.”
CJM provides housing and is currently supporting around 76 people in apartments throughout the city. They meet people as they’re leaving prison and provide them with a fully-furnished apartment and case management support.
“After 12 months with us, the hope is that they become employed. They're able to live independently, they're able to pay their bills, they become a taxpaying, contributing member of our community, instead of what happens to so many folks,” Casey said. “Nationally, about 67% of people who are released from prison end up returning within three years.”
Hear more from Criminal Justice Ministry’s Tom Casey about how their program got started, and why supporting incarcerated people is important:
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