Program aims to help released prisoners

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Capital News Service
LANSING  — Of Michigan 46,600 prisoners, more than 10,000 are released into society each year.
To help with transitions, the Michigan Prisoner Reentry Initiative (MRPI) works with state agencies, community organizations and business leaders to form networks to help prisoners readjust to society.
Carl Williams, the public affairs manager for MPRI, said the program’s 18 offices provide help with health, living conditions, employment and life skills.
MPRI has a three-phase program for prisoners; getting ready, going home and staying home.
In the first phase, prisoner risks, needs and strengths are assessed. The second phase begins six months before release to address housing, employment and services to deal with health and addiction.
The third phase begins on release and continues until discharge to parole supervision.
There is a full three-year follow-up period, in which the MPRI assesses the program’s success.
Only time can tell if programs like MPRI work, said Eric Lambert, a criminal justice professor at Wayne State University.
The budget crisis has put a damper on reentry programs and caused the programs to become accelerated, he said.
Shortened prison sentences are being used to help ease the budget crisis but may cause a problem with community programming because of lack of funding and support, Lambert said.
© 2009, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Not to be reproduced without permission.

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