A panel of community service groups got together at Kenai Peninsula College Thursday night. The topic was restorative reentry, or how to help people released from jail or prison stay out.
According to national figures, more than forty percent of released prisoners will return. In Alaska, the recidivism rate is two-thirds.
But, as evidenced by the panel at KPC, there are resources available for those returning to regular life. Taking advantage of those resources, though, can be a challenge. That’s why the Kenai Peninsula Re-entry Coalition has a job opening. Katie Cowgill from the coalition explains.
Job 1 (0:31) “Right now, Kenai Peninsula Reentry Coalition has the funding available (and) dedicated to a case manager position. The case manager would work with the inmate and Department of Corrections inside the institution, ideally 60-90 days before release, then again work with that individual and DOC and other agencies that have the support services such as housing and transportation.”
Given that many people will be coming out with addiction and mental health issues, that support network is important. Even more so if friends and family can’t provide it. But something as simple as just getting a ride into town from Wildwood, for example, is a process in and of itself. There’s CARTS, but those rides have to be booked in advance and are only available to registered users; two hurdles that are tough to clear from a jail cell. Connecting the dots of how to get home and even where that home will be is the function of this new case manager position. Cowgill says the work won’t stop there, either.
Job 2 (0:27) “This would ideally last for a year or more until this individual is able to really get back on there feet. Because the issue is that we have these services and we have these funds available and these agencies that want to work together, but there isn’t someone there to navigate with the individual. Because it’s the individual who has the hard time of reaching all of these places, especially in our community with transportation.”
Cowgill says funding for the position comes from a state Department of Labor grant, and the official job posting will be available on that website soon.