If you’re the type to read the news in the morning, you no doubt have run across many stories concerning people who have been released from prison only to commit another crime and be sent back. The recidivism rate in this country is alarming and due, at least in part, to the lack of actual treatment and rehabilitation going on behind bars. One Florida program, however, was highlighted this week as they seek to increase their funding.
The Reality House is an residential and outpatient reentry program for people coming off of prison sentences. They provide counseling, support, employment assistance, and other help to ensure people who are released from prison have the tools necessary to succeed in the “real world”.
One client of theirs spoke this week to lawmakers, asking them to continue funding for The Reality House. Jamel Houston’s life of crime started early, when at 13 years old he brought a gun to school. By the age of 22 he was locked up for an armed robbery and would serve ten years in the Florida prison system.
Upon his release he was fortunate enough to work with the Reality House and found employment at the local Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Now, he’s actually a supervisor at one location and says he is saving for a house.
Houston got his GED while locked up but his chances for success weren’t that great when you study the numbers. However, the Reality House, just one reentry program in Florida, helped steer him in the right direction.
Studies have shown employment to be the biggest factor in determining whether or not someone will reoffend after prison time. While money has something to do with it, Houston said it well when he said, “What makes a man feel like a man, a job.” Employment carries with it a sense of pride, duty, and accountability.
Often, employment is such a huge factor in determining someone’s risk, it is one of the very things that keeps a judge from sending them to prison in the first place. It is seen as a tie to the community and sometimes a reason for lenience during the sentencing phase of the criminal courts.
While The Reality House is a reentry program for past inmates, there are other similar programs available across the state for probationers. While these organizations may be difficult for a defendant to locate, a local defense attorney knows what’s available in your jurisdiction and can help.
If you’re facing criminal charges, it’s understandable that you would want to avoid prison at all costs. Contact our offices for a free initial consultation on your case and we can discuss what alternatives may be available to you.