EVANSVILLE, Ind. – A local organization helping ex-offenders re-acclimatize after prison has had a huge impact on attendees and serves as a model for similar programs across Indiana.
Aurora’s reentry program began in 2012 as the state’s first pilot and has helped hundreds of people secure vital resources after leaving prison.
Most who receive support from Aurora do not go back to prison. In 2019, the program’s relapse rate was just 3 percent. The current total since the beginning is 15 percent, which is well below the state’s relapse rate of 37 percent.
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Rose Duran is the team leader for the re-entry program. She is part of a two-person team, together with Nana Wing, which helps about 130 people annually.
The re-entry program helps individuals secure housing, food and jobs. They also connect program participants to health care and mental health resources. Dealing with personal finances is also taught.
Duran said a lot of guidance is needed, especially for people who went to jail in their teens and were released as adults, as they take on new roles.
She said there are many challenges people face after leaving prison and adjustment is the beginning of a long journey. Changes in technology, popular culture, and many other things make returning to life, even after just a few years in prison, much more of a challenge than most participants expected.
Basic tasks like grocery shopping can be challenges if you can go without them for years, Duran said. And this is where Aurora’s program comes in. They help make these transitions easier by, for example, walking into the store with them the first or second time.
Housing, work, and fees such as house arrest and other fines are another barrier to release. Duran also helps participants overcome these challenges, assisting with housing, job placement, and more.
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The program also addresses issues related to substance abuse or mental health issues.
Given the many problems that aggravate the already stressful situation of adjustment, this is a big reason why many people could revert to their old habits and end up in prison again. Aurora’s re-entry program is the support system that many attendees need.
Many people who leave the program continue to find stable housing and become self-sufficient. Read about Frank Montgomery, who started his own business with the help of Aurora’s program and was reunited with his sons after his release from prison.
He said the program was his salvation.