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Coming Home: Prisoner Reentry and the Community

Simply defined, reentry is the process of leaving prison and returning to society. Reentry can be both a problem and a great opportunity for community policing. It is very often a difficult process, which involves not only the offender but also police, parole and probation officers, correctional workers, health care providers, social workers and even policymakers.

For reentry to be successful — to help stop the cycle of inmate recidivism — a range of services should be in place when an offender is released. These services include housing, educational or vocational assistance, medical insurance, family counseling, substance abuse or mental health treatment, and community supervision.

The Role of Community Policing

It is vital for police to work not only with offenders, but also with members of the community in which the ex-inmate will live. Law enforcement agencies can and should put in place cost-effective and sustainable partnerships with parole agencies, probation offices, courts and other stakeholders to reduce recidivism. Officers engaged in community policing should attempt to build trust with returning offenders, while at the same time reducing fear of crime among the general public.

Below you will find COPS resources, available both in print and online, on inmate reentry, as well as three websites with valuable information.

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