Re-Integration Planning “Reducing the Risk of Re-Offending”
The responsibility for providing appropriate plans for an inmate’s eventual release is a daunting task. As many offenders enter into the prison system with nothing or lose everything in the process of their incarceration, providing for all of their needs upon release can be overwhelming. Institutional Re-Integration Planning can provide inmates with the tools and resources they need to help themselves develop a realistic and successful plan pre-release. It is designed to make the transition from the institution to the community safe and uncomplicated. The hope is to strengthen the offenders’ chances for success and to ease their fears and anxieties on their release, greatly reducing the possibility of re-offending.
The fact that inmates are able to contact and in some cases receive support and/or services while still incarcerated ensures their ability to access the resources they need in the community in order to succeed on their release. While most institutions provide for at a least a minimum of discharge services, often community agencies and churches inherit the responsibility of providing suitable and hopefully adequate provisions for the returning offender’s needs. Sometimes, however, it isn’t enough. In fact, recent reports show a large number of inmates are being released from provincial institutions directly into an already over-burdened shelter system. Ex-offenders and Homelessness may soon become synonymous and it is becoming an issue being debated by all involved.
For over 15 years THE BRIDGE has assisted Institutional Discharge Planning for offenders who are returning to the GTA. These needs can be anything from housing, obtaining identification in order to acquire proper medication, to clothing, toiletries, personal hands-on support, groups and recently employment readiness programs.
Providing realistic planning means that we strongly rely on mutually supportive partnerships with numerous agencies, service providers and resources cultivated within the community. Without this support much of the planning and preparation that the inmate needs to do pre-release, would not be possible nor fulfilled.
Services THE BRIDGE is Able To Provide Pre-Release
- Assist Institutional Discharge Planners / Social Workers
- Release Planning
- Locate suitable and available community supports or treatment programs
- Provide personal support and encouragement
- Assist with phone calls or letters to agencies or community support groups
- Arrange for suitable housing or shelter reservations
- Assist with Ontario Works (Welfare), EI, ODSP applications
- Provide contact numbers for any and all specific requirements (Unemployment, etc.)
- Provide clothing (many inmates arrested in one season are released in another)
- Encourage on-going community support and friendship
Re-Integration Programs – **Post Release
Within the community, THE BRIDGE Centre provides a safe haven for ex-prisoners, and offers a warm welcome to families and the community in general. (see: Community Centre)
We often meet men immediately upon their release providing hands-on support and encouragement during the critical first few days of release. We assist with housing, clothing, essential toiletries, transportation and non-judgemental mentorship.
We also facilitate support groups, organize community events and offer on-going support to ex-offenders as they struggle to re-integrate and become useful contributing members of society.
Our efforts at creating a caring community, capable of “Welcoming a Stranger/Prisoner”, have allowed us to successfully reintegrate many and to grow closer to our goal of a crime free/victim free humanity. Our re-integration booklet can be used as a template to provide realistic and practical assistance for those wanting to help … not save .. just help!! (see: “Welcoming The Stranger”)
Our program is highly regarded and successful because of our many community connections, our years of experience, our dedicated volunteers and our willingness to actually get our hands ‘dirty’ when needed. As well, the majority of the men we have worked with over the past 20 years are sincere in their willingness and dedicated to changing their lives and not re-offending
Ex-Offender Re-integration Support Programs:
- THE BRIDGE COMMUNITY CENTRE
- Community Group – Wed. 7:30 PM – Brampton
- Community Group – Wed. 7:30 PM – Toronto
- Community Support – Ongoing
- Community Family Support
- Development of Re-Integration Resources
- BRIDGE-TO-Work Employment Readiness