The transition from life as an incarcerated individual to life “on the outside,” isn’t as easy as many people think. There are a multitude of challenges that these individuals face each and every day. Yes, they may be free, but freedom isn’t always so simple. Not only is there a significant adjustment to being independent, there are oftentimes many of the same temptations that they fell prey to before lurking around the corner. Without the right support, returning to crime is sometimes the easiest path to take.
At Riverside House, we work with hundreds of individuals each year in our residential and non-residential programs to guide individuals on how to live positive and productive lives as returning citizens. Here are a couple of stories from recent clients.
Former Client Enjoying Success in Employment, Living Independently
*Mark Waters is a former client of Riverside House who is now living independently and making a successful transition to the community. Incarcerated for over 20 years, Mr. Waters is adjusting to not having to check-in with anyone as to his whereabouts and often still feels as if he has to call Riverside House before and after work.
Through our conversations with Mr. Waters, it has become very apparent that he is learning how to become independent, and sober minded to make life decisions that are healthy. He is a gentleman that served many years with no family support. He was able to secure good employment and secure a place to stay realizing that all things are not as bad as they seem. Currently, he works at a glass distributor and recently received a promotion because of his work ethic and strong interpersonal skills.
During one recent conversation, Mr. Waters told us that things are going better than he predicted it would be and that he is prayerful for them to stay that way. He also expressed much happiness that for the first time in his life, he was able to celebrate his niece’s birthday without being in prison shackles. He was even able to take her shopping, which gave him a lot of joy. These positive experiences allow him to reenter the community with excitement. We are still praying for Mr. Waters as he continues to acclimate back into the community.
Client Finds Employment, Given Permission to Transition to Home Confinement
Antonio Brown is a current client at Riverside House who is serving the remainder of a prison sentence. Mr. Brown was accustomed to having his own things and abiding by his own rules. However, because of misjudgment and making some bad choices, he was incarcerated for over ten years. When he first came out our facility, he wasn’t sure of what to expect from a “halfway house,” and was very skeptical in regards to the process. Nevertheless, as he began to go to morning roll call, and speak with his case manager and the chaplains, he noticed that there are people who care about each other.
While at Riverside House, he started applying to jobs and going on interviews in order to generate an income and to have the potential of going on home confinement. After over a month without finding a job, Mr. Brown began to get frustrated because he felt like he was a hard worker and had the skills to be hired right away. Unfortunately, due to his record and lack of job experience, he was continually denied for jobs for reasons that seemed unfair. After several conversations with the Spiritual Development Department and his case manager, he continued to persevere in his job search. After about two months, Mr. Brown received the call that he was waiting for. The person on the other end said, “can you start tomorrow?”
Mr. Brown recently told our Chaplain that he had put in many applications and he believed that by keeping the faith, God opened up this door for him. Currently, Mr. Brown is working at Goodwill as a laundry attendant and he feels like things are going to continue to get better now that he has a job. Furthermore, Mr. Brown has recently been given the clearance to go on home confinement so that he can spend more time with his wife and children. Mr. Brown is still under the Bureau of Prisons as an inmate, but he is making a terrific transition and prayerful to be released in a few months.
*Name of the individual changes to protect their identity.