After completing a sentence of imprisonment, walking out of the prison gates is a powerful and emotional time for someone just released. Ideally, they reunite there with friends and loved ones to embrace their freedom after time spent apart. Perhaps cathartic and certainly meaningful, many believe this is when their new life begins.
Yet, the reentry process starts at the very time of someone’s incarceration, where the average length of stay in prison is 29 months (1). When provided the resources and guidance to put a plan into place, serving out their sentence presents an opportunity for an inmate to do the hard work of focusing on rehabilitation and making plans for a successful release.
Additional attention is often needed for inmates who are parents of minor-aged children. Of the 2 million women going to jail this year, 80% are mothers. Increases in incarceration rates explain the 40% increase in foster care caseloads since 1985 (2). During their time of incarceration and reentry, fathers and mothers may work to improve their situation, hoping for reunification with their children who may be living temporarily with a family member or guardian, or have been placed in foster care.
These high rates of parents behind bars require the critically needed resource of complimentary legal assistance for prisoners to navigate the complexities of the judicial system. That is why we partner with organizations including Root and Rebound, and A New Way of Life, whose services include meeting their clients' legal needs in the most challenging of situations.
From its inception, Serving USA has supported programs working to transform the lives of incarcerated inmates and those programs that continue to walk with them as they successfully reintegrate into their newfound freedom in the community as law-abiding citizens.
America’s punitive system may be a source of contentious debate, but what cannot be mistaken is proof that holistic resources paying attention to inmates’ mental, physical, and spiritual health benefits everyone.
Please assist us in these efforts by following Serving USA on social media or through a financial contribution, where you can be confident all funds will be distributed directly to the partners we support.
(1). Danielle Kaeble. Time Served in State Prison, 2018. March 2021, Bureau of Justice Statistics. NCJ 255662 https://bjs.ojp.gov/content/pub/pdf/tssp18.pdf
(2). Elizabeth Swavola, Kristine Riley, Ram Subramanian. Overlooked: Women and Jails in an Era of Reform. New York: Vera Institute of Justice, 2016. http://www.safetyandjusticechallenge.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/overlooked-women-in-jails-report-web.pdf