Section 2: Resource Packet Development
Flesch Reading Ease Software
Transition plans need to be written at a reading level the average incarcerated person can understand. Many of those in jail read between the fifth- and seventh-grade levels, so consider that when developing your transition plans.
An easy way to measure the readability of your reentry plans is to use the Flesch Reading Ease readability assessment software, available in Microsoft Word. The following directions explain how to access these readability statistics when using Microsoft Word 2007:
- Click the Microsoft Office Button, and then click Word Options.
- Click Proofing.
- Make sure Check Grammar with Spelling is selected.
- Under When correcting grammar in Word, select Show readability statistics check box. Click OK.
- Now you will get the readability statistics whenever you click F7 full document spelling check.
After Microsoft Word checks for spelling errors, it will display information about the reading level of the document.
This section will help you create resource packets or guides to empower those incarcerated to use services while in jail and after release. You will also learn the best way to distribute the guides, including training for jail staff.
The development of a user-friendly county- or city-specific resource brochure, pamphlet, or pocket-size resource guide will help the returning population and their families understand the community resources available to meet their needs.
The content of resource brochures and guides ranges from listing the most important numbers and hotlines to providing a description of the challenges inmates face at release and helpful tips to manage them.
Resource packets are important for a number of reasons:
- Link those leaving jail to interventions that can help them
- Help jail staff gain a better understanding of community services when assisting inmates
- Provide an easy guide for the formerly incarcerated when they are released
Following are 12 recommendations for the development of reentry guides:1
- Provide an honest and hopeful introduction.
- Provide letters of support and sponsorship from other former inmates.
- Prioritize crucial first steps, and include a reference list for less immediate issues.
- Incorporate the guide into a training curriculum with in-person support.
- Provide the guide well ahead of release to help prepare a smoother transition.
- Include content that helps to manage specific challenges.
- Include maps of cities, transportation routes, and the locations of major service providers.
- Include informative, motivational text, being conscious of prevalent literacy levels.
- Include only service providers committed and accessible to individuals with a history of involvement in the criminal justice system.
- Be sensitive to language barriers.
- Keep the guide small, portable, and discreet.
- Evaluate reactions before and after publication of the guide.
Field note: Kent County, Michigan
www.reentry.org is a website that was created by our local citizen's group called Reentry Roundtable. It is intended to help offenders locate area resources. On the home page you will see a drop down list called Please Choose, that allows you to enter the site and do some searches. Pick Former Offender and go in and search for some services. The sites that come up in the search, and all the information on those pages, is entered and maintained by the various non-profits themselves.
If the offenders take the time to register with the site and create an account, there are additional benefits. The search results will come up with the services closest to his home address first. They are able to save the search results to their own personal folders. They are also able to save documents to their folder in this website, and that is great because it allows them to work on a resume at a computer at the library, save it, and later open it at any other PC with internet access. As you try some searches you may come across some of the other features. For example, search for Food and along with the food pantries it should bring back a "Tutorial" on bridge cards (food stamps). There are other tutorials about how to ride the bus system, etc.
The creators are willing to share this platform with other cities for a very nominal cost. That would allow other towns to set it up on a server and allow their own local non-profits to add their own information and make it available to their offender population.
Capt. Randy Demory
Kent County Correctional Facility
Grand Rapids, MI
Benefit boards located throughout your facility are an effective way to disseminate transitional materials, including informational pamphlets and applications from the Social Security Administration; state and local government agencies responsible for health, education, labor/employment, public assistance, identification, and housing; U.S. Veterans Administration; and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
New York City Department of Correction Benefits Board &
Following are examples of different types of resource materials for people transitioning from jail and prison to the community.
1. Essex County Smart Book: A Resource Guide for Going Home will give you a better idea of information you may want to include in a resource guide.
2.Going Home to Stay: A Guide for Successful Reentry for Men and Women in Cuyahoga County, Ohio.
3. Travis County, Texas, Sheriff’s Emergency Numbers
4. Reentry packet and information and referral guide (Davidson County, TN Sheriff’s Office)
5. Reentry release guide with map (Orange County Sheriff’s Department).
6. Reentry resource list with map and bus routes. (Douglas County, KS)
7. Crisis Resource Packet (Douglas County Sheriff’s Office)
8. Online Reentry Resource Center to help the formerly incarcerated reenter the community (Grand Rapids, MI)
9. Online list and map of emergency resources in Lawrence, Kansas (Douglas County, KS).
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