Reentry into Life After Prison

Beverly Foster , Staff Reporter

On Thursday, March 28 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the event space of the campus center, the interactive Life After Prison convocation event was held to raise awareness on what it is like for prisoners to reenter into their communities after being released from prison. This reentry simulation was set up and run by five different organizations. 

 Students and faculty alike were given small bags that held a “life card”, which provided them with an identity of someone who was recently released from prison. It also included participants’ imaginary living situations, forms of identification and tasks to complete weekly over a four-week period. These tasks included going to AA meetings, getting written urine-based drug tests, applying for identification, finding employment and many more. Participants were given fifteen minutes to complete each week’s tasks. If they were unable to do so and received five or more misses, they were sent to court where it was the luck-of-the-draw if they ended up in jail or not. 

 Numerous students stated that it was a very stressful. I felt distraught. I felt very helpless,” stated sophomore Heather Vrba. However, most students agreed that it was a well thought-out and executed convocation. 

 The event also included an informational slide show that covered facts and statistics pertaining to the reentry of prisoners after their sentences have been completed. This presentation also discussed the stigma that comes with prisoners falling under the labeling theory, which is based on how people tend to act and reflect on how other people label them. This leads to many collateral changes in how the ex-convicts are treated by members of their communities. 

 “I feel this is like a real-life situation. This is how prisoners feel, and I feel like it’s good to be aware of that,” said freshman Stenisha Bowen.