Preparing For Life After Prison

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Life may seem to pause when a person is in prison, but the world doesn’t wait for you while you’re behind bars.

“The belief is that you’ll kind of jump right back into how life was and that’s not always the case,” said Jay Marchand.

Jay Marchand from Lutheran Social Services says if you’re finishing your sentence on parole, your housing and such is all settled before you leave.  If not, you’re out on your own in the world.

“I know a guy now who’s going through that process in about a week he’s getting out and there’s no parole services or anyone else there to kind of guide him through that time,” said Marchand.

During that time, Marchand says most of the people he works with are looking for one thing in particular: a job.

“You can’t just find a job and you’re good and you’ll never go back to prison,” said Marchand. “It doesn’t work that way.”

Lutheran Social Services hosts re-entry programs for inmates to prepare for the real world. Topics include domestic violence, employment readiness, and corrective thinking.

“Think about a bicycle wheel,” said Marchand. “You got all the spooks for all the different programs. We try to really be that hub in the middle that can connect our clients to all the different resources that can help them in the community.”

When someone reenters that community, it can be a whole new world they may not recognize.

“We have some guys that have been in for a long about of time that getting them on a computer or a cell phone is a traumatic for them,” said Marchand. “They don’t know how to operate those things.”

Marchand helps about 80 people a year on the path from prison to the outside world, a job not about rebounding people back behind bars – but building up futures.

“ [I] want to build a relationship with you, coach you through this process and just be along the ride with you,” said Marchand.

Now, Lutheran Social Services is starting a new, specialized program for young mothers ages 18-24 getting out of prison.

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