New Haven, Conn. – (WTNH) Life after incarceration can be a big adjustment, but with the right resources, our guest today says, it’s possible for people to thrive and rejoin their communities.
Patrick Fallon is the Vice President of Community Justice Programs at The Connection, and he recently spoke with CT Style Host Natasha Lubczenko, about the challenges of re-entry and described some of the services and supports that The Connection makes available to people going through this experience.
There are several stories in pop culture right now, which portray re-entry stories, such as Tulsa King and Kaleidoscope, which feature tales of people facing major life challenges and the temptations of reoffending, because of the barriers they face having a prison record.
One benefit these shows provide, according to Patrick, is that they put the spotlight on the importance of having reentry services available to those that need them.
Patrick says that The Connection, “Offers …an array of services from halfway houses, where people come to out of prison, then they get employed, and we help them save money.” “We help them with their daily responsibilities and basically put them in the best position to succeed when they leave our care.” “We have scattered housing sites which are more independent living situations, and we also have outpatient services where we’re teaching people the skills, they need to be successful.”
In both the films and in real life, there are barriers to re-entering society. Patrick explains what some of those are. He says, “I think the biggest barrier is stigma. A lot of people face a stigma, which is, when they come out and they have a criminal record, they are considered criminals for life, and they’ll always commit crimes.” “Sometimes people make mistakes based on their circumstances. Good people make bad decisions when they’re put in a position, just to survive. So, the stigma is the biggest thing.”
The other big obstacles are employment and housing. Patrick says, “A lot of employers won’t hire people because of a criminal record. Housing is almost impossible now because of a criminal record. So, if you come out of jail or incarceration and you’re not able to gain employment, you’re not able to find an apartment, you’re not even able to live with a family member who has an apartment.” “I mean, the deck is stacked pretty, pretty heavily against you, which is why recidivism rates are what they are right now.”
Patrick says, “Prison is, outside of war, the most traumatizing place you can be. You know, as soon as you walk in the door, you have these very invasive searches right off the bat. It’s traumatizing.” “You go into a very tense, violent place where you have to be on guard 24 hours a day, every day, until you leave. So, of course, you’re traumatized.”
Patrick’s staff is trained to understand what their clients have gone through, and to deliver trauma-informed treatment, communication, and interactions. He says, “We need to meet people where they’re at, not be punitive. Have a conversation with people and help them understand why they behave the way they do in certain circumstances, because it’s a defense mechanism to help them survive.”
The Connection is currently hiring for positions in their Community Justice Program. This includes clinical therapist positions and residential aides. For more information about these programs, visit The Connection’s website at www.theconnectioninc.org