More than 200 individuals on parole, their families and friends, turned out for a Resource Fair hosted by GEO Reentry Services, the Illinois Department of Corrections, and the Illinois Department of Public Health on Aug. 9 at the Jackie Joyner Kersee Center in East St. Louis, IL. GEO Reentry, in partnership with members of IDOC’s Parole Department, gathered speakers and vendors who can offer individuals on parole valuable assistance and resources.
The event was a resounding success, with 214 individuals on parole and community members stopping by to gather information on housing, jobs, schooling, health and treatment services, and more. Fifteen nonprofits and other community service providers set up tables to share information.
“I want to acknowledge the outstanding work accomplished by GEO Reentry and IDOC parole staff at the Summit of Hope Resource Fair,” said Andrew Young, GEO Reentry Area Manager. “GEO Reentry staff from both the East St. Louis Reentry Service Center as well as Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center in-prison treatment program worked alongside dozens of parole officials to ensure participant needs were addressed, food served, and clean-up and break down were completed at this fabulous community event.”
At the event, inspirational speakers shared words of encouragement with attendees. In addition, several recent graduates from the East St. Louis Reentry Service Center were recognized for their hard work and successful transition to independence in the community. Even free haircuts were on the menu, with several makeshift stations set up.
GEO Reentry operates both the East St. Louis Reentry Service Center and Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center in-prison program for the Illinois Department of Corrections. The reentry program has more than 80 regular participants who report daily to the center for intensive treatment and training designed to reduce recidivism. The state opened the program to ease prison overcrowding and reduce recidivism rates among adult parolees in 2004. The Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center in-prison program was opened in 1995 and can house more than 600 male participants.
At both programs, GEO Reentry delivers evidence-based treatment, including techniques and classes proven to reduce recidivism. To successfully complete the program and participate in the transition ceremony, participants must complete a cognitive behavioral program developed to change criminal thinking, remain free from the usage of drugs and alcohol for 90 days, and participate in 90 percent of their prescribed group meetings. Graduates are also coached to be employed or enrolled in school.