"Often times as a society, we expect them to come home and get right to the grind," says Delicia Harris, a Rockford outreach worker who works with prisoners transitioning back into society. "It's really not that easy."
"You're working with a population and it's not entirely a sympathetic population," says Paul Logli, the United Way of the Rock River Valley President who spent 21 years as the Winnebago County States Attorney until as recently as 2007. "But they're a population with great potential."
Wednesday's announcement at Henrietta School on the westside showcases Rockford's interest in helping parolees adapt and keep them from returning to prison. SupplyCore is helping to create a new prisoner re-entry network that will be monitored by several agencies from faith based social groups to law enforcement.
The city's message is that you can succeed in Rockford on parole.
"This is a community that welcomes them to be a productive partner but is going to hold them accountable if they're not willing to be a productive partner," said Mayor Larry Morrissey.
"We are part of a family," Logli said. "If they know there are other people pulling for them and pulling with them, their chances of success are much greater."
According to the IL Dept. of Corrections, 47% of offenders in Illinois re-offend.
"That's too high" says Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson.
In order to bring that number down and break the cycle of crime, re-entry programs are crucial.
"These programs are huge for a person, for example, who's been locked up for 8 to 10 years and comes back out," said Jason Garnett, the Deputy Chief of Parole for the Illinois Department of Corrections. "We take a lot of things for granted in society. So there's a lot of things that's changed for these people that they need to acclimate and get back into society."
"It's going to take hands from everywhere from everyone to make this program a success," Harris said.
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