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Out of prison -- now what? Reentry programs help those returning to community life

Article can be viewed on St. Louis Beacon's website by clicking HERE.

By Elia Powers

St. Louis Beacon

When Clark Porter, a job and family specialist with the U.S. Probation Office, looks across his desk at a client who's just been released from prison, he recognizes the skeptical stare that's often directed at him.

Nearly a decade ago, that was Porter sitting in the other chair, just out of confinement and wondering what kind of invasive monitoring he could expect from the government official assigned to his case. But when the initial conversation with his probation officer had nothing to do with rules, he was taken by surprise.

"What do you want for you?" Porter remembers the officer asking.

"I figured this person was going to be my enemy, but I thought to myself, 'OK, he wants to talk about me,'" Porter recalls thinking.

"What do you want for you?" Porter repeated. It was a daunting question. He paused for a few seconds and then told the officer about his goals: finding a permanent place to live, going back to school and eventually getting a steady job.

Porter has found that stability, and he credits the U.S. Probation Office with helping him stay on course. He's now the one asking recently released prisoners what they want for themselves. Their responses are often familiar. So too, in some instances, are their faces.

"One guy [a client of Porter's] had been in with me," he said. "We literally walked the same prison together, hung out together and trash talked together. He sees me now and says, 'I can't believe it.' I say that I'm just trying to help him get himself together."

Read more: Out of prison -- now what? Reentry programs help those returning to community life

Church and state partner to improve prisoner reentry

Article can be viewed on St. Louis Post-Dispatch's website by clicking HERE.

By Tim Townshend

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Nancy McCarthy began her remarks at the St. Louis Ex-Offender Reentry Summit on Tuesday by telling the story of a young man who, she believed, embodied the problem society faces with prisoners who have served their sentences and are sent back to the streets.

McCarthy is a regional administrator for the probation and parole board of the Missouri Department of Corrections. She was on the campus of St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley this week to help relaunch and re-energize a partnership between the state and faith-based organizations aimed at resettling ex-convicts and reducing recidivism rates.

The young man about whom McCarthy spoke had visited the probation office at District 7-South in Jefferson City the week earlier after being released from a 120-day treatment program.

His plans for post-incarceration life had included living with his mother. But when he arrived at his mother's house, she had been evicted, and he didn't know where she was living. When he finally found his mother, there was no room for him. Same at his father's house. His grandmother had room, but since he had stolen from her before going to prison, she wouldn't have him. He ended up, temporarily, on his aunt's couch.

The man was 22 and had never held a job. He had quit school at 16 after completing ninth grade. The children's division of the Missouri Department of Social Services was looking for him to pay child support.

"Is he a model citizen?" McCarthy asked the crowd at Tuesday's summit. "No. Is he responsible for where he is? Yes. Now what? If it takes a village to raise a child, imagine what it takes to raise an adult."

During 2007, about 16 percent of the 1.2 million people on parole and at risk of reincarceration in the United States returned to prison, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Read more: Church and state partner to improve prisoner reentry

September 30, 2016: Gender Impacts Symposium at Washington University

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STAR is proud to co-sponsor this upcoming symposium at Washington University in St. Louis.

Topic: Gender Impacts: Women and the Criminal Justice System

When: Friday, September 30, 2016, 9:30 am to 5:00 pm

Where:Washington University, Danforth Campus, Umrath Hall

Co-sponsored by: The Washington University Prison Education Project (PEP), Let’s Start, the Center for Women in Transition, Connections to Success, and STAR, with funding from the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement

Registration fee: $5 (WU Students) $15 (General Public)


September 22, 2016: Job and Resource Fair

STAR encourages area agencies to let their clients know about this upcoming Job and Resource Fair:

When: Thursday, September 22, 2016, 11:00 am - 2:00 pm

Where: Overland Community Center, 9225 Lackland, Overland, MO 63114

Featuring: One on one contact with employers

Note: Please bring resumes, business attire suggested

For more information: 314-448-4431

Sponsored by: Community Action Agency of St. Louis County

 Fair Chance Job Fair Flyer 2016

Coffee Chat: September 23, 2016

STAR Coffee Chat 2016

Topic: Community Reentry Resources for the Youthful Offender

Date: Friday, September 23, 2016

Time: 10:00 am to Noon

Location: Family Resource Center, 3309 South Kingshighway, St. Louis, Mo., 63139

Cost: Free. Pre-registration required (only 35 registrations available).

Featuring: Family Resource Center, Rx Outreach, Hopewell, and others to be announced


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