More than 95 percent of people who enter Missouri Department of Corrections facilities ultimately are released, with more than 19,000 people reentering the community every year. We want to make sure they're good neighbors.
To ensure a smooth transition, the Reentry Unit connects Missourians involved with the criminal justice system with the nonprofit groups, faith-based organizations, government agencies, care providers, employers and other resources they need to successfully rejoin the community.
Employment for Missourians involved in the criminal justice system is a win-win-win for the state. Win for employers: skilled labor force eager to work. Win for offenders’ families: stability and income. Win for communities: reduced risk and a safer Missouri. Supplementing the numerous vocational training programs offered at correctional centers statewide, the Reentry Unit helps to facilitate employment readiness programs. Fellow state government agencies and partner nonprofit organizations provide education and training in areas such as goal-setting, résumé building, job interview etiquette, personal presentation and professional expectations. The reentry team has formed partnerships with more than 300 employers throughout the state who are willing to hire Missourians with felony convictions. Offenders nearing release from prison may complete job interviews at prison hiring fairs or through video conference and secure employment offers before release. Missourians can walk out of prison and onto the job site.
For Missourians facing multiple barriers to success, the reentry team helps to coordinate access to wrap-around services. Staff cultivate partnerships with organizations and agencies that can help Missourians leaving prison to find housing, clothing, food, transportation, medical care, childcare, substance use treatment, education, spiritual support and other resources they need to succeed. Community partners provide services and advising to offenders inside the prisons and offer follow-up services and support after release.
The manager of the Reentry Unit also oversees women’s programs for the department. In recent years, Missouri has had the fastest-growing population of women in prison in the United States. Recognizing that the experiences and needs of women in the offender population are often dramatically different from those of their male counterparts, the department has implemented gender-responsive and trauma-informed practices department-wide, offering programming and treatment based on women’s specific, assessed needs. In addition to two women’s prisons, in Vandalia and Chillicothe, Missouri, the department operates an all-women’s community supervision center in Fulton, Missouri, where women on probation and parole supervision can get help with cognitive interventions, life skills, sobriety and more, developing the tools they need to stay out of prison. Our goal is to ensure the availability of gender-responsive programs that provide health, mental health, self-esteem, parenting, academic education, vocational education, substance use disorder treatment and life skills assistance. The rapidly growing population of women offenders challenges the corrections profession to abandon a “one size fits all” approach to more meaningfully address the particular needs of women.