Approximately 2,000 men and women are released from prison each day. Without support, finding a place to live and getting a job can be overwhelming for the formerly incarcerated.
Recent studies have found that without meaningful assistance, two out of three inmates released from prison end up back behind bars within three years.
To help these individuals get a second chance at life, Kansas City Kansas (KCK) Community College has created a new initiative that will help felons return to society after their prison release.
Launched in 2017 with the Family Life Resource Center, The Village Initiative helps these returning citizens get back on their feet by providing services such as job placement, transitional housing, transportation and addiction counseling to better prepare them to re-enter the community as productive citizens.
Programs like the Village Initiative have been very successful in reducing the percentage of prisoners who return to criminal activity after being released. Through the Village Initiative, only 34 percent of inmates in the state of Kansas end up back behind bars after being released, according to Fox 4 KC.
The national rate is over 50 percent.
Volunteers at the non-profit hope that through a role-playing simulation, that community leaders can see the barriers of returning to society firsthand and join the mission of helping returning citizens get a second chance after being released from prison.
“People who are getting out of prison are coming to a neighborhood near you,” said Martin Thomas. “They are in the grocery stores you are at, they are in the theaters. They are everywhere you are. Those who believe ignoring that block of people is a good working philosophy don’t recognize the extent they are placing themselves and the community at a tremendous disadvantage.”
Other organizations who have partnered on the program include: Economic Opportunity Foundation, Roswell Church, Church of the Resurrection, Westside Family Church, Avenue of Life, Wyandotte Courts, KDOC, Wholesale Sheet Metal, KC Faithworks, Local 533 Pipefitters, Sherwin Williams, Rew Material, Lowes, Carpenters District Council of Greater Kansas City, Chas Ball Sunfish Market, Overhead Door, KC Mechanical, Electrical Enterprises, Chic-fil-A, Bright Ideas Signs and More, Brooks Brothers and Churches of Christ Prison Ministries.