LETTERS: Inmates offered help on release from prison

Re: Prison program builds bridges (News, Nov. 1)

I read your front page piece on the inmate work program and the opinion piece inside with interest and appreciation. One of the problems that correctional systems anywhere suffer is repeat offenders.

The Canadian corrections system has decided to take on this challenge head on. Numerous programs inside the institutions are designed to assist inmates in learning the life skills necessary to live normal, productive lives in the community and to reintegrate.

There’s more that can be and needs to be done. This brings me to the point of this letter.

The Corrections system’s responsibility ends when the inmate is released. The inmate then has to make his way in a less than sympathetic world. Organizations like the Salvation Army and the John Howard Society run halfway houses that help newly released inmates reintegrate into society.

These and other organizations such as M2W2, which I belong, also offer assistance. We meet with inmates while they are still incarcerated to help them prepare for release. We also commit to working with the inmate for at least the first six months after their release. We try to help the inmates deal with the unanticipated problems that happen in life and as a valuable resource function to help them from resorting back to a life of crime.

These organizations rely totally on volunteer staffing. I can tell you from firsthand experience that working with inmates is extremely rewarding. More than that, we are defending our communities from the effects of reoffenders. Everyone benefits from this work.

There’s always a need for more volunteers. You can call William Head Institution or any of the organizations that I have mentioned for ways that you can get involved. Your neighbours will thank you.

Phil Bulled, Sooke

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