Programs and Policies for Reintegration into the Community
Social reintegration refers to the support given to offenders during their reentry into the society following imprisonment (Wallace et al., 2013). It involves programs and services created to help prisoners live law-abiding lives in the community after their release. Trinidad and Tobago, like other states, has put in place measures and interventions that are meant to support prisoners’ transition into the community after release. Thus, the measures seek to do away with stigmatization and focus on making the offenders law-abiding citizens with a sense of worth instead.
Programs and Policies for Integration into the Community
Offering material assistance to enable the victim to start a new life. Some offenders could have a history of unemployment due to the lack of education or social marginalization which might have led to the crimes (Wallace et al., 2013). Financial assistance could give them grounds to enable them to start businesses and be responsible members of the society.
Respecting the former offender and treating them as members understandably. Basically, the offender’s past mistakes should not define their future as some usually change during the incarceration process (Sumter et al., 2013). Treating the offenders with respect will give them a sense of belonging thus enabling them to recover fast from the prison life.
Giving the offender a moral-spiritual direction. This helps the offenders in recognizing or realizing their mistakes from the moral perspective while also helping them to recover emotionally. Of course, this is mostly done with the help of religious leaders.
Reconciling the offenders with the victims. This is a key program because it will determine how the society treats the offender. Some crimes could be hard to forgive; however, the authorities should make an attempt to ensure that the two parties find peace.
Incidentally, empirical evidence has proven that successful reintegration of offenders after parole takes place immediately after release (Sumter et al., 2013). This explains why the first step of transitional counseling begins when the offender is still in prison. Consequently, counseling helps the offenders to face their mistakes and come to terms with the offenses they committed. The offenders are also prepared psychologically for life after prison as well as trained to change their behavior.
A pre-release plan is then designed for the offender (Sumter et al., 2013). During this time, they are prepared for financial responsibilities which can entail job training. The offenders are urged to get some work experience that will enable them to become responsible citizens. The pre-release plan also helps offenders on parole to get and maintain employment, a stable residence, and to adhere to strict reporting guidelines during the reintegration process.
As a matter of fact, the offenders are then counseled on matters relating to drugs and alcohol. At this point, the drug addicts are rehabilitated and provided the necessary care (Sumter et al., 2013). Drug use is discouraged both in prison and while free as most of the crimes can be attributed to drug abuse. For successful reintegration into the society after prison, it is important for the offender to be in the right state of mind to make the right decisions. 6
The final step entails an educational program and job training. Some offenders have attributed their imprisonment to lack of education (Sumter et al., 2013). An educational plan equips offenders with basic skills and knowledge that can be used to generate income thus enabling them to reintegrate into the society well. Some offenders engage in crimes because of their poor backgrounds with the provision of education, it is possible to avoid such crimes.
In a nutshell, to successfully transition and reintegrate an offender, the individual has to be assessed for skills, abilities, and behavior that are required for reacceptance into society. In Trinidad and Tobago, the programs that are needed for successful reentry include: drug rehabilitation, prerelease programs, vocational training and jobs training. Before these are carried out, the offender is taken to the reception and evaluation center for classification. Additionally, a proper assessment data is used to develop an individualized case plan to be used for educational, vocational and treatment programs for the offender. These programs are designed to mold the individual into a law-abiding and productive citizen. However, many parolees have difficulty reuniting with their families, getting jobs, housing or even proper health care. These factors often jeopardize the chances of integrating into the community.
Sumter, M., Monk-Turner, E., & Rougier, J. (2013). Assessing current programs and reentry needs in Trinidad and Tobago: Insights from the offenders – an exploratory study. African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies: AJCJS, vol. 7, no. 1/2, p. 118.
Wallace, R., & Wylie, K. (2013). Changing on the inside: Restorative justice in prisons: A literature review. The International Journal of Bahamian Studies, vol. 19, no. 1, p. 57-69.