OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) — Members of the community and business leaders experienced first-hand some of the obstacles of life after incarceration.
The Green River Rentry Council hosted a simulation that gives a glimpse into a month in the life of someone just released from prison.
It was held at the Owensboro Community Technical College and facilitated in collaboration with the Kentucky Career Center, the Kentucky Department of Corrections, and RiverValley Behavioral Health.
“Things can be a little bit difficult cause there’s a lot of things that come into play when you’re in that process. This kinda will help the community members who are participating in this get that insight as to, you know, what things they can do in their organization or in the way they facilitate things,” said Karyleen Irizarry, the Senior Director of Community Health and Forensics at RiverValley Behavioral Health.
Officials say struggles like housing, transportation and family relationships can significantly impact the success of people’s reentry into the community.
“I didn’t have enough money to get a token. I didn’t have tokens at all. Someone was there to lend me some tokens, and then he’d lend me $40. That’s really how it is out there, whenever you don’t have anything…[when] you’re just getting out of a bad situation. People love you back to life you know until you can love yourself,” said Christy Hinton, a simulation participant.
Stations were set up to represent facilities like the employment office, the DMV, pawnshops and even jail.
Willie McBride worked as the career center/ GED supervisor in the simulation.
He says having to get his GED in real life was difficult, but seeing the other-side of the coin was a good representation of how he’s being taught to live after the completion of his recovery program.
“Being able to hand out jobs, being able to give back cause that’s the only way that.. like the way [Owensboro Regional Recovery] teaches us is in order to keep what we have, to give it back. So, that was a great way of me giving back, that makes sure people had a job and was able to do the type of things that they needed to do,’ said McBride.
Ultimately, the simulation’s mock four weeks aims to reflect real life challenges that can open participants perspectives.
“So, every level is challenge and every challenge kind of brings you to the realization of ‘oh my god’ these are the kind of things that I need in order to do this. But, I can’t do this because I’m missing that,” said Irizarry.