Furthermore, there are child support policies that burden parents with incredible debt that makes it virtually impossible for them to take care of their children (2006).
In general, maintaining relationships while one is in prison is difficult. Most incarcerated individuals -- especially those with children -- want to remain close to their family members. However, due to the fact that many prisons are located in remote, rural areas, it is quite often very difficult for family members to visit, which strains familial bonds (NYSBA 2006) and makes the reunion after incarceration difficult because the relationship has not been nurtured.
Depending on what type of prison the individual is in, visiting may be difficult as well. While maximum-security prisons have visiting hours oftentimes seven days a week, many minimum-security prisons only have restricted visitation hours (NYSBA 2006). Many times in prisons, the visiting rooms are quite small and thus visiting times need to be cut short because there is limited space (2006).
Prison ministries have their limits when it comes to have a positive effect on prisoners and their reintegration into society. McRoberts (2002) notes that while religion and spirituality may help individuals survive the hardships and the absurdities related to being incarcerated, there is a very different existential challenge that ex-prisoners must face once they are on the "outside."
Prison ministries have a very difficult challenge when it comes to "helping" prisoners get ready for reintegration. First of all, prisons are a place where people are sent as punishment, they are not places that are supposed to direct criminals away from criminal activity (McRoberts 2006). While prison ministries may try and do this, there is still the fact that prisons are a place of confinement and punishment. However, prison ministries and their language of …'reintegration' into 'community' and 'neighborhood' via religious institutions imply a certain understanding of churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples as 'community institutions.' They assume that churches are open communities -- that is, they are open to serving nonmembers as well as members, and they are somehow embedded in the social life of the neighborhoods where they happen to congregate (McRoberts 2006).
Prison ministries inside and outside of the prison can help prisoners get ready for reintegration into society and prison ministries outside of prisons can also help prisoners by giving them support. Many of these ministries focus on reforming the individual -- that is, the person has to recover from his criminal ways in order to not go back into that anti-social and criminal behavior. These ministries aim to reaffirm the values of human life and also aim "to transform criminal identities into illicit ones" (McRoberts 2006).
Reintegration into society is a difficult event and long-term process for prisoners. They suffer from challenges such as securing employment, getting public benefits and reuniting with family members that they may not have had much contact with while in prison. Prison ministries can be helpful when it comes to reintegration, not only because prison ministries offer support and encourage personality and behavioral changes, but they can also prepare the prisoner for what types of challenges he will meet on the outside. There are prison ministries that work both inside and outside of the prison and can offer support and assistance based on the different challenges of being in prison and reintegrating back into society. Though the challenges are different outside of prison than inside- specifically existentially speaking, prison ministries can offer guidance in a world that seems to turn its back on the individual reintegrating.
McRoberts, Omar M. (2002). "Religion, reform, community: examining the idea of church-based prisoner reentry." The Urban Institute. Accessed on January 24:
Pager, D. (2006). "Evidence-based policy for successful prisoner reentry." Princeton University. Volume 5, No. 3., pp 505-514.
McRoberts, Omar M. (2002). "Religion, reform, community: examining the idea of church-based prisoner reentry." The Urban Institute. Accessed on January 24, 2011: http://www.caction.org/rrt_new/professionals/articles/MCROBERTS-RELIGION.pdf?