Most people have never given a thought to what it would be like to re-enter society after a period of incarceration. The Springfield Restorative Justice Center, which focuses on rebuilding community connections and repairing harm, will host an eye-opening workshop for the public on April 21 that will address the issues faced by that population.
During the four-hour Offender Re-Entry Simulation, each participant will get to walk in the shoes of a formerly incarcerated person coming home to the community. The afternoon will be broken into 15-minute blocks of time, each representing one week in which they must accomplish a list of tasks.
Each returning offender will have to report to their probation officer, find employment, transportation, housing, food and clothing, as well as attend A.A. or N.A. meetings, counseling, and medical appointments. At the same time, they will have to pay child support, provide restitution and make sure they follow all the rules and regulations of the conditions of probation. If they are unsuccessful, they will face sanctions or a possible return to prison, just as real offenders do when they fail to comply with expectations.
Even with the best planning, participants will discover the frustration in making contact with service providers, where lines are long and offices sometimes closed. Compounded by a lack of funds and transportation, two of the most challenging issues returning prisoners face, the experience can be stressful and difficult. Without support on the outside many will fail.
The public is invited to observe a free program on Thursday, April 21, 12:30 to 4:30 p.m., at the Turning Point Recovery Center, at the end of Pearl Street in Springfield. There are a limited number of seats available. RSVP by calling 802-885-8707 or firstname.lastname@example.org.