How in-prison reentry programs prepare inmates for life after prison

Latoya Lane

A growing number of state institutions are introducing efforts to reduce recidivism long before an inmate is released to their community. Through these in-prison reentry programs, at-risk offenders are given the individualized treatment necessary to help them transition to a life without crime.

Addressing individual thinking with evidence-based programs like GEO Reentry’s In-Prison Program is necessary for ensuring a successful reentry. Correctional staff identifies inmates who would benefit from reentry services and refer them to the on-site program, where GEO Reentry staff conduct risk and needs assessments to create treatment plans tailored to participant needs.

At the core of in-prison reentry is evidence-based programs that address anti-social behavior and reduce recidivism by giving individuals the skills to be responsible and productive in society. For example, specialized work readiness classes provide training in resume writing and interview techniques to help participants secure gainful employment upon release, an important factor in preventing re-arrest. Other classes, like parenting, substance abuse and anger management, help individuals repair relationships with their loved ones so they can enjoy a better sense of purpose when they rejoin their communities.

In addition to building functional skills, the program addresses participants’ attitudes with evidence-based practices like cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing. These proven approaches help reduce crime by reforming behavior.

“Addressing criminal thinking is imperative to almost all other programming,” GEO Reentry In-Prison Treatment Vice President Latoya Lane said. “There’s a domino effect when an individual can’t change their thought processes. The goal of evidence-based programs like Thinking for a Change and Moral Reconation Therapy is to address criminal thinking and help individuals be more receptive to treatment.”

Inmates in the In-Prison Program receive positive reinforcement for pro-social behaviors and are continually held accountable for their actions. Counselors work closely with participants and regularly measure their progress to ensure individual needs are being met. Tracking progress is an integral part of GEO Reentry’s program success and allows program staff to determine the most appropriate course of action for each participant.

“We’re always looking at ways on how we can improve services and how we can enhance our data collection,” Lane said.