NDCS Reentry Resources Having Powerful Impact

Nebraska Department of Correctional Services

Lincoln – Two reentry resources created by the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services are proving to have a powerful impact on inmates getting ready to return to society.

“It has been a year since the Reentry Workbook was published,” Director Scott Frakes said. “The accompanying Reentry Guide was released a few months later. Both publications have exceeded our expectations in terms of how they have been received.”

To date, more than 11,000 workbooks and guides have been distributed to individuals incarcerated in NDCS facilities.

“The Reentry Guide provides an overview of nearly every program, class or club available throughout the agency,” said Reentry Program Manager Tony Britten. “The Reentry Workbook provides tangible resources and steps people can take that will allow them to exit with a realistic plan for success.”

Individuals receive copies of the workbook and guide as soon as they arrive at a NDCS facility.

Ryan Leiting is completing his sentence at the Community Corrections Center-Lincoln. He said receiving those resources gave him a sense of hope about what he could do after prison.

“Each workbook has a plan in the back,” Leiting said. “If a person wants a better life, this book gives them a direction and lets them see what a healthy plan versus an unhealthy plan looks like.”

Reentry Administrator Grace Sankey-Berman oversaw the creation and publication of the workbook and the guide. Inspirational stories and practical exercises help people to visualize what is possible when they do the work.

“Those who use the Reentry Workbook are more actively involved in their reentry planning and have a more thought out plan that addresses their needs,” Sankey-Berman said.

Frakes said the resources help reduce the likelihood of returning to old patterns of behavior.

“The more engaged people are in planning and directing their own futures, the more likely they will be able to succeed on the outside,” Frakes said. “That is why it is so important that reentry begin at intake.”

Daniel Virgil is also at CCC-L. He said utilizing the workbook helped him to identify those things he would need to have ready upon release, like housing.

“I looked through all of the housing options,” Virgil said. “I filled out my own budget sheet, which helped me a lot. There were also job interviewing tips in the book and suggestions on how to tell an interviewer about my past criminal history.”

The workbook also includes chapters on addiction recovery, education, transportation, parole and post-release supervision. To increase access, the Reentry Workbook and the Reentry Guide are made available on secure tablets approved for use by inmates and through facility libraries.

“The guidance provided by our reentry specialists cannot be understated when it comes to getting people prepared for release.” Frakes said. “These books are another tool that makes that interaction more productive and more meaningful.”

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