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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.