A Pre-Release Program at East Mississippi is Hitting the Mark
You’re looking at the pre-release dorm at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility in Meridian, Mississippi. Carolyn Powe is the re-entry coordinator.
“So, I’m here to want to benefit each and every one of them,” she says. “To empower them with their own strength. ‘You can be somebody, you might have fallen down, but you have the opportunity now in this pre-release pod to get yourself up, dust yourself off, and start over again.’”
The pre-release pod is for residents at the facility who have 24 months or less before their release.
In a supportive, encouraging community environment, the men assist each other as they each prepare for a successful release. They are taught job readiness skills, as well as budgeting skills, anger management, coping skills, and self-confidence. In this community setting, with all of the men striving for the same goal of a successful release, they also keep each other on task.
“What they’re doing at this point right now,” explains Ms. Powe, “they’re working on their individual change plan; meaning, ‘what is it I can do right now to change my life? I need to be able to change that attitude, change that behavior; go back out there where I can be able to hold that job.’ They’re learning again those job skills, learning how to do resumes. Leaving out of here with that portfolio, so when they get ready to go get job, they are armed and ready to go out there in that world and show the world, ‘this is what I’ve done, and even though I’ve been down, I’ve been in prison? But look at what I’ve done to build myself up.'”
“This is my practice field,” says William Malone, a program participant. “And now when I come home, I’m ready to be better for my family and be successful.”
“Since I’ve come over here,” Antonius Young says, another participant, “I’ve learned patience, money management, just all around. Monday through Friday, learning how to wake up in the morning, getting ready to go, and having responsibility, and somebody holding you accountable.”
Geoffrey Jones also participates in the pre-release program.
“Because if I don’t start a change now,” he says, “I will not start one when I go home. I have got to the age and point in my life where I know I don’t need to be here. I am somebody, and this program, and thanks to Ms. Powe, I realize that I am somebody.”
Antonius Young expresses his gratitude. “I thank everyone for this program; Ms. Powe for staying on us everyday, daily.”
“If it wasn’t for Ms. Powe,” agrees William Malone, “and this program, I would be behind these doors not doing anything. So, I appreciate the opportunity of getting to come and change my life for myself and for my family.”
Geoffrey Jones also expresses his appreciation. “I would just like to thank everybody that has a part of this here, that put time and effort into helping me become a changed man.”
“So, they leave out of here with everything they need in hand,” Ms. Powe says, “to go out there and be men again in this great society.”