The federal government and states are working to reform criminal justice and reduce prison population.
Inmates are coming home in record numbers, and police fear a spike in crime if needed social services aren’t available. One group is working to help released inmates make re-entry and find their way back.
Fifty-seven Texas prison farms are releasing inmates who are non-violent or serving time for drug offenses.
“We have about 500 a month coming back now,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. “Many of those people have a place to go. They go back and live with their family, but some of those people don’t have a place to go.”
For now, those with no place to go are housed at the Dallas Transitional Center.
“As people come back into society with $20 in their pocket from prison, they quickly become people who are in need of the social safety net services that we provide,” said Jenkins.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown worries about the width of that social safety net.
“The concern is people coming back from the prison system don’t have social services such that if they have mental health problems, if they have drug addiction problems, will likely re-offend,” said Brown.
Al Richard is executive director of the Way Back House, a re-entry service center.
“We provide any type of assistance that they might need or ask for,” said Richard.
Thom Dinsmore teaches men in what’s called boot camp to help them get job-ready.
“You have to create an environment in the job interview so that they don’t look at you as a crook,” said Dinsmore.
“I slowly come to the realization I need to learn those news skills and get a resume, and that’s why I came here,” said ex-offender Joe Peralta, who has been out of jail for two and a half months.