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OS Reentry Team Participates in Jail Simulation Event

May 24, 2024

On May 16, 2024, the Networks Northwest OS Reentry team participated in a Jail Release Simulation Event in Traverse City that brought community leaders together to build empathy and understanding about the difficulties and stigma attached to reentering communities after incarceration. OS Reentry Regional Director, Christal Frost, worked with the Northern Michigan Opioid Response Consortium and Before, During and After Incarceration (BDAI) to bring this first-of-its-kind event to Michigan.

During the simulation, participants were given "life cards" which contained the identities of formerly incarcerated individuals based on real-life people with experiences of life after incarceration. The event was meant to simulate the challenges and chaos that can accompany reentry. Participants were given a list of items to accomplish within a week (total time to accomplish was fifteen minutes), with many of those items--like drug testing, employment, counseling and checking in with agents--being mandatory parole conditions. At the end of the week, participants were given the opportunity to talk about their experiences. By the end of the simulation, many participants were back in jail due to parole violations, with dozens of others living in homeless shelters or unemployed due to missing work for court and other pitfalls that can often accompany reentry.

The OS Reentry team works with individuals across ten counties in northwest Lower Michigan who are reentering our community after parole. They offer support and guidance for clients attempting to find their feet and begin their journey toward success. OS Reentry is a program funded by the Michigan Department of Correction's Reentry Division, whose mission is to reduce recidivism after incarceration. Since the program's inception, the state has seen a steady decline in recidivism rates. In the early 2000s, our state saw an average of over 50% of paroled individuals returning to prison within three years. In 2022, that number was just 22.7%, largely thanks to recidivism reductions programs like OS Reentry. 


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