Giving Former Inmates Another Chance

 By Dr. Chad Audi

We’ve all heard the saying, “Everyone deserves another chance.” That’s what some former Michigan inmates are getting through a program called “Michigan Prisoner ReEntry Initiative (MPRI).” Parolees and prisoners who will be released without supervision are placed in the program prior to leaving prison or jail. They get assistance on how to successfully transition back to their communities and receive the resources they need, such as shelter, food, clothing, job skills, transportation and much more. The Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) provides its services to help the former inmates integrate back into society, which in turn can lead to a dramatic reduction in recidivism.

“The Michigan Prisoner ReEntry Initiative is the governor’s response to reducing crime and improving safety in the community by eliminating or reducing as best as possible those folks who end up coming in and out of our prison system and better tooling them to return to communities safely and have the skills that they need to transition into their communities and be productive citizens,” said Tamela Aikens, MPRI community coordinator for Wayne and Monroe counties.

Remember, many of these men and women have seen only prison walls for decades. Society has changed a great deal since they’ve been incarcerated. They need help dealing with those changes and getting on with their lives. “Bruce” came to DRMM through the MPRI after spending 26 years in prison. Neighborhoods he frequented had changed, and so had the people he once knew. With nowhere to go, the Detroit Rescue Mission provided Bruce with transitional housing, clothing and food. After numerous rejections from employers, he found a job and is planning to become an entrepreneur. “I feel when a guy’s getting out of prison just give him a shot at the title; it won’t hurt, he’s only human. He did what he did, it’s true, but give him a chance; see what he can do because we all are gifted in some way or another, but all we need is a chance,” said Bruce.

The MPRI collaboration gives Bruce and several other former inmates another chance at becoming productive citizens. That’s extremely critical, especially when you consider the fact that about 5 percent of prisoners in Michigan and across the country die in prison. That leaves 95 percent who come home to the community. If we help those men and women re-integrate into the system, we’ll have a more peaceful and safer society.

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