Yes, it’s been awhile. More than a year and a half, actually. When I took a break from writing this blog, it wasn’t because I’d lost interest in the issues faced by folks who have criminal records. Rather, it was that I needed to pursue some writing that actually earned me money.
So I did. And I continue to.
But a funny thing happened along the way. Many of you didn’t stop reading. In fact, daily page views for Out and Employed steadily rose. Some of you continued to share your struggles with me privately or even send me questions. I felt bad about not always being able to respond. I figured maybe other blogs or websites would pick up the slack, and they have. There’s a lot more out there than when I started this blog in early 2009.
And yet…it still seems that there can never be enough. So as of today, I will be relaunching this blog and getting back up to date on the state of the reentry challenge — what’s changed, what’s stayed the same and what the new issues are. I’ve already updated my links to add new resources and fix the broken ones (thank you to the careful readers who pointed those out). Please let me know if there are any other useful sites that I should have on my blogroll.
My initial impressions: Obviously, the job market hasn’t gotten any easier. But the information out there to help ex-offenders and others with criminal records has definitely improved. I remain in awe of The National Reentry Resource Center, which continues to offer the best one-stop shopping for anyone looking for assistance making the transition from incarceration back to working life. In fact, a new addition on their site gets my…
Most useful help line: Did you know that in many parts of the country you can dial 211 if you need help finding food, housing, health care, counseling or other community services? I didn’t. To see if this service is available in your area, go here and enter your zip code.
Most encouraging statistics: Recidivism — that’s folks returning to prison — is significantly down in a number of states. A report issued by the Council of State Governments in September found Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Texas and Vermont each were able to reduce their recidivism rates through a variety of measures. These included programs targeting those at highest risk for reoffending, improved training for parole officers, more community-based housing and increased use of home monitoring. For each state, the study compared three-year post release recidivism rates for individuals released in 2005 with those released in 2007. Michigan showed the biggest improvement with an 18% drop in its rate, while Kansas was second with at 15% reduction. For more details you can read the report.
Most pressing questions: Here’s where you can help me. What are your questions? What challenges are you facing right now? What would you like to see me write about? Please let me know and I’ll try to cover it in a future post.