Life after prison can be difficult for many offenders, particularly if they have been in custody for a long period of time.
On their release, prisoners often have very few personal belongings, no money and no home. There are a number of different programs designed to assist Silverwater jail inmates when they are released into the community.
Some of the common challenges facing prison inmates upon their immediate release include:
- Lack of housing.
- Lack of transport.
- Lack of essential personal items such as non-prison clothing.
- Minimal personal identification documents.
- Debts and financial difficulties.
- Difficulty re-establishing family relationships.
- Lack of access to appropriate drug rehabilitation facilities and treatment.
It can be difficult to find employment without a permanent residential address. Having a criminal record and a history of being in prison can make it even more challenging to get work.
Unfortunately, a lack of available services along with financial hardship can lead released prisoners to re-engage in criminal activities to support themselves, which can lead them straight back into prison.
In order to try to break the cycle of prison and reoffending, many facilities in NSW, including Silverwater jail, help inmates adjust to the transition from prison to the outside world by offering pre-release programs.
The programs are designed to help equip prisoners with the necessary skills to survive and function in society on their release.
They also offer access to resources, including housing and drug rehabilitation programs, which are intended to assist recently-released inmates get on their feet and make a start on rebuilding their lives.
What is included in a pre-release program?
Before Silverwater jail inmates can be released, there are a number of procedures and screening processes that staff will be required to undertake. These include:
- Identifying inmates to Centrelink if appropriate, to help set up the required interviews so they can start receiving payments on their release.
- Screening for drug and alcohol issues or other medical issues that may require treatment after release.
- Providing information about services and support networks in their area.
- Helping inmates obtain identification documents.
- Making inmates aware of the challenges they may face, and providing information about how they may be able to deal with difficult situations, and avoid people and activities that may encourage them to reoffend.
- External leave programs so that inmates can begin the re-integration process prior to their release date, including finding employment and re-establishing family relationships as well as learning to be financially responsible and interact positively in the community.
On the day their sentence expires, Silverwater jail inmates will be released and their personal items will be returned to them. In some cases, a one off payment will be made to help them purchase essentials such as clothing, and they may also be provided with bus fare or a train ticket to get to their place of residence.
It can be challenging for inmates to rebuild their life after a long period of time in custody. It can help if they have maintained as many ties as possible with their friends and family members while in custody.
There are also a number of other support services available to help offenders reintegrate into the community, improve their level of education and find housing and appropriate employment after their release from jail.