Supporting Your Loved One Through Reentry

Feb 15, 2023

If you have a family member or loved one who is preparing for release from incarceration, you might have questions or concerns. While you may be looking forward to having your loved one back in your everyday life, there’s also a lot to prepare for.

For the individual about to be released, release can be just the beginning of a tough journey. After release, generally, two out of three formerly incarcerated individuals are arrested, and fifty percent of those released will be incarcerated again. When reintegrating into the community, your loved one may struggle to find adequate housing, healthcare, and the quality employment necessary to become financially independent. Additionally, handling the change in circumstances and culture can be a major shift mentally for someone who has been in prison for any length of time. Recidivism is higher for individuals who have no support during their reentry. This is why family support is so important throughout the reentry process. Finding a reentry program is also critical for your loved one to have the best chance possible at reentry success.

Where To Begin?

The first hurdle for individuals facing reentry is where and how to begin reassembling their lives. This is true both for individuals who were incarcerated while they were young as well as those who have been in prison for most of their adult lives, as they have very little life experience to draw from for living independently. Without a strong support network or guidance from reentry programs, reentry can be overwhelming, making it very difficult to stay on track.

Make sure you clearly understand any conditions of your loved one’s probation and/or parole. Understanding all the conditions will help to minimize the chances of violation. You’ll also want to be prepared for the emotional strain that reentry can put on your loved one and your entire family. Look for resources in your community that may be able to help with food, transportation, clothing, support groups, developing social connections, etc.

Finding Employment and Housing

Though having a steady job and housing have a positive impact on reentry, finding employment and stable housing are major barriers for individuals who have been involved in the criminal justice system. A formerly incarcerated individual must be prepared to explain gaps in employment and will likely be asked by potential employers to provide more in-depth answers about the reasons for their incarceration.

Another common issue with finding employment can be the loss of personal relationships during incarceration. Employment is often found through word of mouth, and the loss of connections willing to provide references can negatively impact quality job opportunities.

Reentry programs or other community resources like Perry County Literacy Council (PCLC) in Newport, PA, may be able to help with career readiness like resume writing and interview skills, and academic and vocational training. Reentry programs may also have connections with employers who believe in second chances and are open to hiring formerly incarcerated individuals.

As with employment, having a criminal record can be a barrier to finding stable housing. Research resources for reentry housing near you. Halfway houses, transitional housing, and residential reentry centers are options that help individuals adjust before moving into the community. A local reentry program may also have important connections to help your loved one find reentry housing.

Mental Health Issues

Aside from having to cope with the challenges of reentry, it is not unusual for formerly incarcerated individuals to have mental health or substance abuse issues that were not sufficiently treated while they were incarcerated. Treatment of mental health issues is especially important because it can also affect both employment and safe, stable housing. A reentry program can help with resources for treatment options and continue to monitor progress.

Family Strain

Family relationships play a critical role in reducing recidivism, but it’s important to be prepared for the stressful situations that will ultimately arise. Communicate with your loved one to establish practical expectations and boundaries on both sides. For example, it may be necessary to put limitations on financial support for your loved one to avoid hardship for the rest of the family. The more you communicate about this upfront, the better prepared you will be and the more likely you’ll be able to maintain strong family relationships.

If the resources are available, consider family or relationship counseling to help you and your loved one work through any issues in a healthy way.

When individuals facing reentry don’t find a reentry program, family members often must step in and piece together services to try to match what a reentry program is already set up to do. This can lead to conflict in the family and may fracture relationships. Finding a reentry program in your community can be life-changing.

PCLC offers many free resources, programs, like community reentry, and adult education to Perry County residents. PCLC serves the Perry County community by advocating for those who want to earn a better life.

Will your loved one soon be ready for release? Reach out to the team at PCLC to learn more about how we can help break down the barriers that may be holding you or a loved one back. Give us a call at 717-567-7323 or email

About PCLC

The Perry County Literacy Council is dedicated to delivering the programs and services that impact Perry County, providing a One Stop site in Newport where Adult Education and CareerLink® partners are accessible at a single point of contact.

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We believe that all Perry Countians should have access to services, education and credentials that will support self-sustaining wages. If you are currently facing challenges, please reach out to us. If we can’t help directly, we can direct you to the right resource.

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