On May 12, 2023, at the Civic Center in Gering, Nebraska, dozens of providers from agencies across the spectrum of community service participated in a unique opportunity to experience some of the challenges that our justice-involved Nebraskans face on a daily basis. Coordinated by RISE (the largest nonprofit organization in Nebraska focused solely on habilitative programming in prisons and reentry support) and the Nebraska Department of Labor, this event simulated the experience many people with legal histories have when seeking basic needs like food, housing and employment. Participants were given character profiles, then tasked with getting basic needs covered as they tried to set up households, gain employment, get necessary treatment and assistance - all while trying to adhere to required probation or parole conditions. At the many stations, the participants faced the reality of conflicting appointments, barriers to employment, restrictions on financial assistance and the paperwork involved in overcoming some of these barriers. Afterwards, participants were able to share their experiences and observations. Many were surprised at the sheer volume of obstacles in the path of post-incarceration success.
Representing Parole at the event was Specialized Parole Officer Joy Pitts. She was able to share with the group the expectations of Parole and how often Parole refers clients to other agencies to improve the client’s chances for success. The group as a whole learned a great deal about what reentry really looks like.
For more information on RISE, review their website at https://www.seeusrise.org/.