Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

New York State
Department of Correctional Services
David A. Paterson, Governor
Brian Fischer, Commissioner
George B. Alexander, Chairman (Division of Parole)

Contact: Erik Kriss
Office of Public Information
(518) 457-8182
ejkriss@docs.state.ny.us
www.doccs.ny.gov

For immediate release:

December 10, 2008

Department of Correctional Services and Division of Parole Develop Brochure for Families of Offenders Returning Home to Help With Adjustment From Prison to Community

The New York State Department of Correctional Services and the New York State Division of Parole have issued a new brochure designed to assist families and friends of offenders who are getting ready for their loved ones to return home after prison.

“Coming Home / A Family’s Guide to Reunification” includes a checklist of items important for inmates’ family members and friends to review before the offender returns home. The items include advice for family members, friends and offenders to prepare emotionally for the return, such as understanding and anticipating changing roles among family members and considering counseling. The items also include practical matters such as housing restrictions, including whether the ex-offender must be added to a lease; job readiness, including whether the ex-offender has a Social Security card, driver’s license and birth certificate; whether the ex-offender is eligible for Social Security, Medicaid and other benefits or certificates that remove legal barriers; and an awareness and understanding of Parole Officers’ right to search the home of and to drug test the ex-offender.

The brochure is intended to help those who will provide the primary residence for and/or support to inmates returning to the community. A Spanish-language version of the brochure is also available.

Approximately 45,000 copies were printed for distribution at correctional facilities, in visiting areas and to inmates nearing release, to community-based organizations that serve prison families’ needs, and during initial Parole home visits.

The brochure has also been posted on DOCS’ web site under the “Family Guide” section (http://www.doccs.ny.gov/FamilyGuide/ComingHomeBrochure.pdf), in Spanish under the “Guia para la Familia” section (http://www.doccs.ny.gov/FamilyGuide/ComingHomeBrochureSpanish.pdf) and on the Division of Parole web site (www.parole.state.ny.us).

DOCS Commissioner Brian Fischer said: “The support of family and loved ones can make all the difference between success and failure when an offender begins the very difficult transition from life in prison to life back home. We want to do all we can to assist those who provide support to newly-released ex-offenders, and we believe this guide offers a wealth of practical and helpful information.”

Division of Parole Chairman George B. Alexander said: “As part of our re-entry initiatives, before an inmate is released to parole supervision, our parole officers make visits to the home where the person will be living once they are released. Parole officers will hand out these brochures during their visits, helping to ease the transition from prison to society. This is an excellent example of cooperation among several state agencies and community-based organizations and our ongoing commitment to increase success among the formerly incarcerated population.”

Randi Blumenthal Guigui, Family Works Program Director of the Osborne Association, a non-profit support group for offenders, said: “The reunification brochure includes important information that families need to be able to successfully support their loved ones when they return home from prison. The brochure provides a comprehensive and thoughtful array of information and guidance and demonstrates DOCS’ commitment to helping former prisoners in their efforts to reunite with their families and live healthy, law-abiding and productive lives.”

Alison Coleman, Director of Prison Families of New York Inc., said: “Many families want to support their loved ones in all possible ways through the prison experience. Armed with this important reunification brochure, families will be better prepared to assist with the challenging transition from prison to home and community. Knowing what to expect when someone re-enters society is of the utmost importance.”

Bobby Blanchard, Project director of the Catholic Charities Neighborhood Services Children’s Center at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, said: “While it is clear that family connections provide comfort during incarceration, in many cases they also provide a catalyst for creating more stable, happier and productive lives upon reunification.”