Reflection on Reducing Recidivism and Reentry Conference

Reflection on Reducing Recidivism and Reentry Conference

The 2023 18th Annual Reducing Recidivism and Reentry Conference was well attended but lacked a clear focus on reentry and the intersection of underlying causes of incarceration and subsequent recidivism.

Many of the speakers told personal reentry stories that made for powerful accounts of overcoming systemic failures and examples of resilience in the face of uncertainty (but it felt mainly like the conference was catered towards service professionals, I don’t know how these professionals can implement change that’s necessary for these programs or similar to have a meaningful presence in our punitive state). These stories demonstrated to conference attendees the capabilities of formerly incarcerated people, reminding them that the client sitting next to them could very well be a future leader. These stories deserve to be told broadly, and shouldn’t be restricted to conferences for professionals, they deserve to be told to the general public with the hopes that their power and humanity downplay the stigma that society associates with a criminal history.

The presentation from Project Rebound focused on the importance of the prison-to-university pipeline. Successful participants of their educational program saw a ZERO percent recidivism rate! Another great presentation by the Jobs for the Future Foundation covered a topic that is relevant in Alaska, demonstrating to employers and providers best practices for hiring formerly incarcerated people that reduce concerns around negligent hiring while also recognizing the blatant discrimination that is generally more of a concern.

Organizations often work in silos and the saying goes, “we suffer in isolation, but heal in community” and this conference gave space for that community to grow.

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