‘Reentry Week’ recognizes staff who assist offenders with community reentry

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Governor Sam Brownback recently designated July 10-14 as Reentry Week in the state of Kansas.

The recognition is meant to celebrate the work of staff, contract providers, mentors and volunteers in the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) who work towards assisting previously incarcerated men and women with reentry into communities.

Every year, more than 5,000 adult men and women are released from Kansas prisons and return to Kansas communities. This process, called reentry, is important because of the opportunity to set these adults up for a successful transition back into society.

Secretary Joe Norwood of the Kansas Department of Corrections said he observes the essential role staff members play in the security of Kansas communities when it comes to the reentry of previously incarcerated adults.

Offenders who don’t have natural supports, job skills, a positive environment or the skills to navigate treatment and service systems are at risk of returning to crime and prison. This return to incarceration is known as recidivism. The goal of the KDOC reentry programs is to reduce recidivism and ensure successful transitions back into society.

According to Norwood, through evidence-based programs, core effective correctional practices, robust reentry and discharge planning, treatment and services from community providers, and the support of family, friends and mentors, Kansas has cut recidivism from over 55 percent to about 35 percent since 1999. Offenders who participate in KDOC’s Mentoring 4 Success recidivate at just 8.7 percent during their first 12 months after release, a testament to the work of volunteer mentors who assist in the reentry process.

Norwood said Kansas offenders are leaving prison with more preparation, job skills, pro-social supports, connection to services, and a continuum of care. This advance leads more offenders to a law-abiding life, increases their chance of success, increases public safety and results in fewer victims.

Open houses at all Kansas correctional facilities and parole offices are scheduled for July 10-14 to provide the public with more information about the importance of this work. Those interested in participating can check the schedule of events and feel free to visit and learn more about reentry programs.