What are the immediate needs facing returning citizens?
SHORT TERM NEEDS
Returning citizens’ immediate needs include safe housing, clothing, medical care, and support for substance abuse. Directing former prisoners to available community resources that can meet these needs can help prevent them from falling back into their former lifestyles.
Unless required to have a housing plan in place before release, returning men and women will need to find safe housing while they are transitioning into society. Without housing many former prisoners can end up on the streets or crash with old friends, which can result in them falling back into their old lifestyles. Gather information on possible housing options available in your community for former prisoners that you can direct them to.
When leaving prison, former prisoners might not have access to clean clothes or the financial means to obtain one. Securing clean, appropriate clothing is important for everyday wear as well as employment. Research the clothing closets that are in your area that you can direct them to, or consider starting your own.
Returning citizens often do not have health insurance and will need access to affordable health care. If your church is equipped, they can gather a list of medical resources that you can direct former prisoners to go to for medical help.
HELP WITH SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND RECOVERY
Churches can encourage a life of sobriety by referring former prisoners to substance abuse support groups in their community, such as Celebrate Recovery, which recently partnered with Prison Fellowship®. Connecting former prisoners with support groups will give them the best chance of maintaining sobriety.