2013 Regional Reentry Conference

By Erica Turnbull, SPP Summer Intern

This July 2013 marked the fourth annual Regional Reentry Conference, organized by the Community Partnership for Transition Services of Pierce, King, and Snohomish Counties in conjunction with New Connections, and Race and Pedagogy Initiative of the University of Puget Sound (UPS).

SPP’s summer intern, Erica Turnbull, from Western Washington University, and SPP’s Roots of Success Environmental Education Coordinator, Rachel Stendahl, from The Evergreen State College, attended the two day conference held on the UPS campus in Tacoma, WA.

SPP Summer Intern Erica Turnbull and SPP Roots of Success Environmental Education Coordinator Rachel Stendahl. Photo by Brittany Gallagher.

King County Superior Court Judge, Mary Yu, gave the opening speech highlighting the importance of reentry for ex-offenders, their families, and the community as a whole. Upon release, ex-offenders are often barred from financial aid, public housing, education, and employment; these barriers encourage reoffense and supports the cycle of incarceration. This conference brought awareness to these issues and helped people and organizations network to form a more comprehensive safety net for newly released ex-offenders.

Over the two day event Erica and Rachel dispersed along with the 300 attendees, sitting in on nine out of twenty-five sessions. Participation in this conference was a great opportunity to network with reentry centers, counselors, work releases, child support and human resource specialists, judges, and attorneys.

Lower incarceration rates mean lower cost for the state and tax payers
According to Honorable Yu, recent interest in reentry programs appears to be a side-effect of a diminishing budget. Money is tight and building new prisons is an expensive, quick fix to a deep rooted issue. More emphasis has been put on programs that develop skills, resilience, and positive and productive behavior in order to provide ex-offenders with the resources and life skills necessary to keep them from returning to prison.

Prevention over incapacitation
Concluding the conference was a discussion panel about the importance of integrating reentry programs into incarceration facilities and the community. Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney, Mark Lindquist, believes that “tough on crime” should mean better crime prevention programs and better reentry services; prevention over incapacitation. Additionally, community involvement and acceptance of ex-offenders is necessary for success. Panelists stated that offenders have served their time, and should not have to serve an additional sentence through lack of opportunities or labeling. In order to start changing community perception, recent releases should not be called ex-offenders or felons but people in transition.

Reentry is about putting the “we” back into “welcome back”!
From the connections made, and information learned, SPP is compiling a list or reentry resources to offer people in transition as they prepare for community reentry. SPP is also preparing certificates of successful participation and completion of various SPP programs. These resources should provide personal and professional support. Reentry is a collaborative effort among policy makers, community, family, and people in transition.

4 Comments:

  1. Alba Etie

    Hello
    I am working with a non profit as a volunteer – Central Texas Bee rescue.
    We are looking at setting up apiary programs in Texas prisons . The goal is to train the offenders to be bee keepers . I am also in contact with the Austin Travis County Reentry Roundtable – to be able to place the bee keepers in jobs once they a re released from prison . This is all very early going and we are trying to gather information about how other organizations such as yours have already be doing some of this work .
    We would welcome any help guidance you might offer on this endeavor . My cell is ( 512) 423-8390
    Thank you

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  2. alba Alba Etie

    PS..
    The name of the bee conservation group I am working with is Central Texas Bee Rescue .
    The contact name there is Walter Schumacher .
    info.ahpa.org (512) 914-0123.
    Currently I am writiing a job description for an office manager/grant writer . And I hope to raise $ 15,00 to $ 30,000 for the non profit from private donations to fund the office manager position . .
    I included my website as a means to introduce myself – I am strictly a volunteer . .

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