How does a federal inmate who becomes eligible for release adapt, stay afloat, and avoid reoffending? It's a challenge that 6,000 offenders just released are facing, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The courts and BOP had a full year to ready prisoners for releases that became effective Nov. 1. That meant careful vetting of eligible prisoners and time to help them transition toward re-entering society. “People are picturing them opening the gates and people running out of prison,” said Doug Burris, chief U.S. probation officer for the Eastern District of Missouri. “But what people are picturing is not the reality.” Preference was given to inmates who had participated in work, job training or educational opportunities while in prison,which Burris said have proved to reduce recidivism.
Aaron Laxton of Criminal Justice Ministry heard from a client who had given up. After being released from custody, the ex-inmate learned a friend had been stabbed to death. The client injured his back and couldn't keep up with rent. He wanted to return to prison, because it was what he knew. It was safe and easy. “Everyone from time to time feels like it would just be easier to give up,” Laxton said. “For this guy it was just a matter of talking him through it. He had the answers, he just needed to be validated and told, 'I know what you are going through is tough, but I think you are strong enough to get through it.' ” Another ex-inmate, Charles Rush-Bey, 52, said that in prison, “I involved myself with a lot of activities — schooling, different programs. Anything that was positive, I involved myself with it. But most of all, I embedded myself in my faith and tried to build off that.” Rush-Bey has a job as a custodian and plans to pursue a degree in human services at a community college.