How Released Inmates Try To Reconnect With Families


David Jennings, 37, was released on parole in May after serving nine years of a 20-year sentence for a 1996 robbery. his daughter lives in a Washington, D.C., suburb, with her mother and stepfather. The Scripps Howard Foundation Wire tells the story of his re-establishing relations with his family afer his release. At Hope House, a private organization that gives inmates the chance to spend time with their children, founder Carol Fennelly said dealing with the families of ex-offenders is one of the most neglected areas of re-entry. While fathers are gone, the role of head of the family is usually taken over by mothers. Once the fathers return, they are expected to take charge and be the breadwinners and disciplinarians. “It’s hard for our guys to live up these expectations,” Fennelly said.

Leonard Sipes of the D.C. Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency said the organization offers a wide array of services for ex-offenders. “Offenders bring a wide array of issues to the table,” said Sipes, citing drug abuse, rape,and neglect as examples. The agency provides drug treatment and performs mental health assessments. “The research is abundantly clear,” Sipes said. “We can reduce recidivism by 15 to 20 percent.” In 2007, the agency reported a recidivism rate of 12 percent for federal offenders.


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