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*The United States makes up 5% of the world’s population, but has 25% of the world’s prison population.
**Ninety-five percent of those incarcerated in the United States will be released into the community, but of those, approximately half reoffend and return to prison within three years.
Lycoming College will host a reentry simulation created by the Franklin County Reentry Coalition on Tuesday, Nov. 5, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., to help Lycoming College students, faculty, and staff, as well as the general public, understand the day-to-day struggles of an individual’s reentry into the community after incarceration. The simulation will take place in the Keiper Recreation Center on the Lycoming College campus. The event is free and open to the public.
Many barriers exist to an individual’s successful reentry into society after incarceration, and the simulation serves as a tool to educate participants on the collateral consequences of having a criminal conviction. In addition, the exercise helps to reduce stigma and cultural stereotypes around those who have been incarcerated, and motivates participants to become involved in their communities.
Kerry Richmond, Ph.D., associate professor of criminal justice and chair of the department, helped arrange the simulation, which ties in heavily to her first year seminar, “Returning Home: What Does it Mean to Desist from Crime?” The course deals with the process of a person leaving incarceration, and the experience of reintegration from the individual, family, and community perspectives.
Attendees will experience a two-hour program in which they take on the role either of an individual just getting out of prison or a member of that individual’s family. The simulation is designed to show how challenging it can be to perform the most basic of tasks, such as finding dependable transportation to and from a job, a doctor’s office, and other important appointments; securing affordable housing; overcoming financial instability; and learning to live a “normal” life while battling a substance use disorder or mental health problem.
“Over the course of the semester, students in my first year seminar have been learning about the barriers and challenges that individuals who are returning home from prison face,” said Richmong. “The purpose of this simulation is to have the students put themselves in the position of an individual who is experiencing these struggles to understand just how overwhelming it can be. The goal is to humanize the experience in a way that a reading or lecture is unable to.”
*Bureau of Justice Incarceration Reports
**Offender Reentry: Correctional Statistics, Reintegration into the Community, and Recidivism, Nathan James Analyst in Crime Policy, Jan. 12, 2015.