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Re-entry simulation highlights challenges people face after being released from prison

By Steve Tawa

June 29, 2018

KYW News Radio 1060

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Participants at a "Re-entry simulation" on Friday faced the often unpredictable challenges that people encounter when they get out of prison. It was a taste of re-entry reality.

Assuming the identities of ex-offenders, they had a check-list of tasks - moving table to table - each of which represented various stops on the outside. They included dealing with half-way houses, probation, obtaining a driver's license, going to treatment centers, and filing out job applications.

They were community activists, people in law enforcement, probation and parole, the court system, and folks who did take that route out of prison and are now back in the community.

When Isam K. Smith, a community organizer in both Philadelphia and Chester, opened up his packet, he and had some monopoly money, but no ID.

"I had to go backwards, go get my ID," he said, "then come back for treatment."

Cyndi Zuidema, Reentry Coordinator in the U.S. Attorney's Office, says they got a taste of how life throws curve balls.

"This simulation is meant to demonstrate that," she said, "they get the gist of the feeling of frustration."

Deputy U.S. Attorney Lou Lappen says the goal is to get people just leaving prison on the right track in life, to reduce recidivism, the tendency of a convicted criminal to relapse into criminal behavior.

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