“Families are the first, and often only, resource that ex-offenders can turn to once they are released from prison. Families not only provide the immediate necessities of food and shelter, but they also give necessary emotional support that helps the ex-offenders avoid substance abuse and become working members of society. Without this encouragement, ex-offenders quickly return to the last thing they knew before they were incarcerated- a life of crime.”-Pat Nolan
In order to be successful following reentry into society, ex-offenders need to have maintained relationships with kind and invested people. There are many different relationships that assist in rehabilitation as well as reentry. The most important of these include: family, volunteers, and mentors.
Family support is a proven factor in reducing the risk of recidivism. While incarcerated, the awareness of a loving family awaiting your arrival changes your mindset. The days are easier to endure and there is a greater sense of hope surrounding the idea of reentry. In order to allow this form of rehabilitation to occur the BOP needs to change the 500 mile rule in order to allow in-person family relationships to be maintained. The distance between families serves as a major barrier to rehabilitation.
For those that are farther from their families, there are even barriers to having conversations over the phone. Expensive rates are charged to prisoners in order to talk to their families. This money is a huge barrier for many. When close family ties are a major factor in reducing the risk of recidivism, calls and visitation should be encouraged rather than hindered. These high rates for phone calls are unnecessary, as well as unreasonable to impose on people who earn between $.33 and $1.41 an hour.
A lack of communication between parents and children in foster care is the basis of the termination of parental rights. When all of these barriers exist preventing the communication of parents with their children, it is inevitable that they lose their parental rights. This is something that will cause a major hindrance in the rehabilitation of offenders, and will increase the risk of recidivism. Barriers to communication of single parents with their children especially need to be decreased.
Communication between families and their incarcerated loved ones is mutually beneficial. Because it helps offenders and promotes a form of rehabilitation, it also reduces the risk of recidivism and therefore also benefits communities and taxpayers. Barriers that prevent families from being involved in their loved ones rehabilitation process are harmful to all of these people and need to be eliminated.