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Hard Time: Ex-Offenders Returning Home After Prison

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Volume: 67 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2005 Pages: 66-71,155
Joan Petersilia
Date Published
April 2005
7 pages
This article attempts to provide corrections professionals with a better understanding of the characteristics of inmates returning to the community, the needs and risks offenders represent, and society’s barriers to reintegration.
The United States faces enormous challenges in managing the reintegration of increasing numbers of individuals leaving Federal and State prisons. There is a significant need to develop more effective responses to these challenges. In order to provide these effective and successful responses, corrections professionals must better understand the characteristics of inmates coming home, the needs and risks offenders represent, and society’s legal and practical barriers to reintegration. Several issues are addressed in this article and include: (1) who are those that are coming home; (2) preparing inmates for release; (3) employment and workplace barriers and restrictions; (4) publicly available criminal records; (5) housing and homelessness; and (6) reforming parole and reentry practices, such as reinvest in prison work, education, and substance abuse programs, reinstitute discretionary parole, institute front-load post-prison services 6 months after release, implement a “goal parole” or earned discharge system, and establish procedures so that some ex-offenders can put their criminal offending in the past. 7 Endnotes