“These People, Do They Care?” Facilitating Connections to Post-Incarceration Reentry Supports
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The Maine Prisoner Reentry Network (MPRN) is a statewide organization with the mission of supporting Maine’s reentry community. In April 2020, MPRN began conducting remote meetings with incarcerated individuals prior to release, a practice that allowed for advance reentry planning and the opportunity to introduce returning citizens to reentry supports. MPRN strives to be equitable and sought a research partnership with me in hopes of expanding their reach and impact. My research is thus motivated by two questions: what are structural barriers that impact reentry experiences or curb access to reentry supports? How is MPRN able to meet the needs of returning citizens, and what role has conducting remote meetings prior to release played in the supports provided by MPRN? I conducted 28 interviews with returning citizens and reentry-related service providers across Maine. Findings suggest that given the challenges faced by returning citizens, these remote meetings should continue because they have positively impacted the process of reentry planning. Findings also document that most participants found the full range of supports provided by MPRN, both tangible and intangible, to be highly valuable. Suggestions for improvement include broader advertisement of MPRN, increased support for people with serious mental health challenges, more transparency around whether or not resources can be guaranteed, and prioritizing racial representation among leadership.