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Report Sees Ways To Improve Outcomes Among Released Inmates

Marc Levy

A task force set up three years ago issued recommendations Wednesday about how to improve the process of reentering outside society among prisoners who have finished their sentences.

The Pennsylvania Reentry Council's report addresses housing, work, health, education and other challenges that former inmates face upon release from incarceration.

The group says re-entry coalitions are currently in 30 of the 67 counties but should be established across the state. It is calling for all prisons and jails to hire re-entry counselors, as the Department of Corrections has done.

It urges lawmakers to fund a program to provide state-issued identification to all inmates upon release, expanding to counties an effort that's currently done in state prisons with assistance from the Transportation Department.

The report describes the barriers former prisoners can face in finding a place to live and urges all correctional facilities to help those who are eligible to obtain medical benefits before they get out, so that health care will not be interrupted.

The task force said employers would benefit from getting more guidance about hiring former prisoners and suggested more of them stop asking job applicants about their criminal histories.

The council also addressed how families adapt when loved ones return as former inmates, endorsing the wider use of peer mentoring and better financial support for child care.

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