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DOC Reentry Team Hosts Legislators for Reentry Simulation at Camp Hill

Tags: Camp Hill
September 20, 2022 12:00 AM
By: DOC Staff

Two people standing at a table with an inmate and DOC staff member seated at it facilitating a reentry simulation

​The DOC Office of Reentry hosted seven legislators and their staffers at SCI Camp Hill for a unique opportunity — to participate in a reentry simulation put on by incarcerated individuals.

PA Senators Camera Bartolotta, Art Haywood and Tim Kearney were joined by PA Representatives Sheryl Delozier, Jordan Harris, Tim Briggs and Darisha Parker at the event. Bartolotta’s office initiated the event and worked with Delozier’s office to coordinate with other members of the general assembly. Deputy Secretary of Reentry Kelly Evans greeted the guests and thanked them for attending before Director of Reentry Operations Melissa Repsher introduced the program and set the ground rules.

A reentry simulation is a program where participants simulate being a reentrant and must complete tasks each week, including find employment, housing and groceries, check in with parole, secure transportation and much more. All of this is done on a tight schedule and budget to simulate the real experience reentrants face in the community. Stations sit around the room representing the grocery store, medical center, identification card facility, bank, court and more, and participants have 15 minutes each round to complete all assigned tasks. Throughout the event, participants frantically searched for the right station and were frustrated by standing in line or not having the necessary paperwork to continue. Some were even sent back to jail for various offenses, including failed drug tests.

One participant resorted to criminal activity just to accomplish his checklist, while others had to skip groceries or other necessities. It was an eye-opening experience for everyone involved, and it was made all the more powerful by including the inmates who will soon face these struggles.

Following the event, the incarcerated individuals who helped facilitate the stations shared their thoughts on the event and expressed their gratitude to the legislators for coming to experience what reentrants go through. While there were laughs throughout the event by participants and inmates alike, everyone realized the sobering reality that this is not a game for reentrants, and the challenges they face are very real. One of the biggest things stressed by the inmates was to continue supporting programming and education to prepare them for a successful reentry to help with some of the challenges they will face.

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