Staff from the Elizabeth Community Reentry Center, a non-residential reentry center in New Jersey, and members of GEO Reentry’s New Jersey Alumni Services attended a reentry conference at Kean University on Nov. 9. The conference featured simulations designed to help criminal justice employees understand the frustrations and challenges offenders face when attempting to return to their communities.
NJTV correspondent Brianna Vannozzi interviewed several criminal justice employees about their experiences at the conference. They said that by role-playing scenarios offenders often face following their release, they could see how difficult it is to not reoffend.
Vannozzi also interviewed Arthur Townes, GEO Reentry’s New Jersey alumni manager, about the challenges he encountered on his reentry journey. “I actually remember having two job interviews on the same day and based on my record I didn’t get offered either one,” Townes said. “I believe at some point in my transition I found a purpose when someone reached back and helped me. I was kind of almost ordained or obligated to do the same.” Townes said he was able to avoid reoffending because of a strong support system.
Representatives from the Elizabeth CRC were part of the conference planning and played an active role in the simulations. The Elizabeth CRC’s director Elizabeth Volpe and assistant program manager Jorr Mbye worked the court booth simulation. They also invited two program alumni to speak on the conference’s reentry panel.
GEO Reentry Services offers evidence-based programs in residential and non-residential settings for offenders transitioning back to their communities. Programs are designed to help offenders meet conditions of their release while securing full-time employment or school enrollment. Program participants receive targeted treatment and training, including cognitive behavioral therapy, anger management, substance abuse education, parenting and life skills classes, case management and community connections.