Learning valuable skills to gain employment after re-entry for ex-offenders can help create a fulfilling life for returning prisoners.

As part of the Lutheran Social Services of Illinois and a statewide program, Reentry Services for Returning Citizens helps ex-prisoners become self-reliant as well as helping improve the local community.

Lutheran Social Services of Illinois collaborates with the Illinois Department of Corrections, Habitat for Humanity and other non-profit organizations to help build housing components for low-income families utilizing prison inmates. Since 1995, over 6,000 inmates at 23 federal, state and county correctional facilities in the state of Illinois have helped build components for over 700 homes, all the while building valuable and usable employable skills.

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Walking out of the doors of prison after being incarcerated can be a very scary time for an ex-prisoner. Thoughts are focused on simple basic survival–where will I live? How will I eat? How will I get a job? Where do I get appropriate clothing and how? For many of these former inmates, it is almost easier to head back into prison than to try and survive post-prison-lacking the education and skills to function in a normal society.

In Yavapai County, Arizona, exists a wonderful organization called Yavapai Reentry Project, a group of non-profit organizations, government offices and community members that have come together to help recently released prisoners transition into society. The Mission Statement for the Yavapai Reentry Program is: “we are a regional support system which promotes successful reintegration of former inmates in a way that improves community safety by reducing criminal behavior.”

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