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7 Best strategies for reintegration of a Returning Citizen.

If you wonder what are the best strategies for reintegration of Returning Citizens you’ve come to the right place!

Here are the best 7 that can be implemented simultaneously.

Statistcs show that people entering prison have a history of self-harm and suicidal thoughts:

·        21% have attempted suicide at some point in their life’s

·        44% have had suicidal thoughts

·        half of those who commit suicide in prison have had a history of self-harm.

That is why the services provided and the whole reintegration process of each and every prisoner must be targeted to their particular needs. That is why we feel the need to introduce the best strategies for reintegration.

7 Best strategies for reintegration of Returning Citizens.

People entering prison usually have poor education or have no education at all, which is usually accompanied by social adaptation issues. They may be unable to engage in work or other activities, maybe their families are unwilling or unable to serve as a fallback support.  They also find themselves confronted with the tasks of accessing health care and keeping up with their medications or appointments. 

We must understand that prisoners that have physical, mental health, and substance abuse conditions have different reentry experiences from the “average” Returning Citizen.

Those with severe health problems face increased risk of physical illness, relapse into drug use or inappropriate behavior that provokes a police response. It is a fact that successful treatment of returning offenders’ health conditions would increase their chances of successful Reentry and contribute to distance from criminal activity.

So, unless current or former prisoners receive help to face these issues, they will stay caught up in this vicious cycle of re-incarceration. Until prison is not dedicated to real reintegration, the prison will serve as a school for improving skills to perform crime.

Which are the 7 best strategies?

·        Invest in education

·        Drug treatment

·        Psychosocial interventions

·        Family support

·        Animal care programs

·        Basic life and relationship skills

·        Opportunities to become active citizens

Prisons should begin to prepare offenders for release on the day the sentence starts. All staff should be involved in preparing prisoners for reintegration. The challenge for prison services facilitating successful Reentry back into the community is not only to treat just a drug problem, but also to address other issues including employability, educational deficits and maintenance of family.

#1 Invest in education

Social reintegration can be more difficult for offenders with poor education and skill set. The report on prison education and training in Europe, shows how education and training for prisoners help in reducing the social costs of crime and support the rehabilitation of prisoners and reintegration into community. 

(The Nelson Mandela Rules recommend education of prisoners within the country’s educational system, so prisoners may choose to continue their education after their release.)

#2 Drug treatment

Drug treatments programs can be carried out in a number of ways. There can be outpatient treatment (in medical clinics or spaces inside prison facilities) including psychosocial interventions, pharmacological treatment and training activities, residential treatment inside prison, and drug-free units.

Therapeutic communities are the main form of residential treatment and evidence of effectiveness is limited, but they might be beneficial in reducing drug use, re-arrest rates and re-incarceration. 

Drug-free units - residential wings not focused on drug treatment, but provide a drug-free environment that supports people in remaining abstinent.

(Opioid agonist treatment

Opioid agonist treatment is one of the best strategies for reintegration and should be the primary strategy for drug addicts. In Europe, OAT consists of using methadone or buprenorphine for opioid dependence. There is evidence that methadone reduces injecting risks and increases engagement with community treatment after release. However methadone should not be given as a reward or withheld as a punishment.


Doses should be increased or decreased gradually. Starting by 5 mg every five days. 10 mg is seen as safe for larger doses every three days. Higher maintenance doses are associated with better therapeutic outcomes and the optimal range for most people is 60–120 mg per day.)

#3 Psychosocial interventions

Psychosocial interventions are the most important of these 7 Best strategies for reintegration of Returning Citizens, you would ask why? Because it can address both the psychological and social aspects of a client’s behavior.

Relapse prevention therapy

Relapse prevention therapy teaches coping strategies for maintaining changed behavior. It can involve changing social environments, attitudes, physical environments or avoidance of certain triggers of addictive behavior. 

Relapse prevention is a self-control program that helps inmates recognize the warning signs that they may be going back to an unhealthy behavior or habit.

This therapy does not cure the urge to behave in a certain way, but it helps offenders to understand their own behavioral pattern. It involves helping these individuals identify specific thoughts, feelings and acts the more aware they are of their thoughts the more healthy ways of dealing with their urges. 

Faith-based programs and activities

Faith-based activities do not provide just spiritual and mental help; it can help engage offenders and motivate them to take responsibility for their lives. They also tend to be capable of raising community-based resources.


Imprisonment by itself does not motivate the offender to change his ways and desist from crime. The question is how offenders can be motivated to change and to participate in programs that are offered to them.

It should be noted that, in most cases, every offender is motivated by the same internal factors (such as achievement of valued goals, avoidance of pain, and social recognition) and interpersonal factors (encouragement, gaining social acceptance, etc.) as every other human being. So when approaching inmates with a program these factors should be taken into account and increase their motivation for involvement.

#4 Family support

Various programs can be designed to also work with families. It should begin while prisoners are in custody and prepare the family for the forthcoming transition. 

In the United States, we have the Greenlight Family Reintegration Program that includes activities for participants with their family and there is the Community Mediation Maryland’s prisoner re-entry program which seeks to assist offenders in overcoming the difficulties providing an opportunity for offenders to have conversations with family.

These programs include mediators that support participants' opportunity to have meaningful discussions, which is the needed groundwork for a more realistic return home.

#5 Animal care programs

Prisoners who have contact with animals tend to be better prepared for their return to society. This Program helps them to take responsibility for an animal, which can teach them respect and appreciation for other forms of life. Also these programs can help offenders to learn new skills and develop their self-confidence and self-efficacy.

Also there can be animal-assisted therapy. Care-giving activities connected with a pet ties them to a reality which is otherwise absent in institutions like prison. It can broaden their ability to commit, not only to the tasks required in care, but also to the living creature that relies on him.

#6 Basic life and relationship skills

During imprisonment, offenders can experience diminished independence, self-sufficiency, self-esteem and initiative. But upon their release, offenders are suddenly required to organize their lives independently. 

Programs for developing basic life and relationship skills can help them acquire problem-solving, communication and conflict resolution skills, which will prepare the offenders for easier adaptation to life in society.

#7 Opportunities to become active citizens

Positive mental health is a sense of confidence and self-respect, involving being and feeling responsible for oneself and also for others. Some prison programs help prisoners with work opportunities; others offer volunteering options. For example, by making baby clothes for those in need. 

Vocational training and work

Employability of prisoners is one of the key factors to reduce the likelihood of a prisoner reoffending. However it is very hard for a person to find work after prison. Employment is key to returning citizens finding housing, supporting their family, gaining self-confidence, and/or making friends.

Involvement of community services

There have been new approaches in aiming to divert individuals away from prison and into a range of services in prisons. 

Measuring effects of undertaken measures

Measuring the effects of these programs is of crucial importance. However, it is difficult to identify the best practice on social reintegration programs and it is a difficult task to measure programs outcomes or results. Evaluating the effectiveness of a program needs three main steps:

·        Check out the observed outcomes;

·        See if the observed outcomes resulted from the program or one of its activities;

·        Compare the value of the change by reference to standards, targets, benchmarks or other programs.

Interventions upon release from prison

Specific pre-release measures are needed especially for those who use or have used drugs, as there is the risk of relapse into drug use, and overdose. 

To ensure an easier transition into community, cooperation between services operating inside the prison and health and social services outside is especially important. 

There are two key interlinked components: connections to services in the community to ensure the treatment for SUD continues; and prevention of overdose.

Why are NGOs important?

It may be a mistake to focus social reintegration programs only on managing the offenders’ risk factors and responding to their needs where the primary role of reintegration in communities is sometimes forgotten. Reintegration programs should focus on one key objective of social support and control around the offender, that is actual involvement in society.

While community organizations support the successful social reintegration of offenders, specific strategies are required to mobilize and sustain community involvement in doing so. NGOs can assist in ensuring that this issue is kept on the political agenda.

Here are some successful programs that prisoners can include:

United States

Huikahi restorative circles in Hawaii involve the incarcerated individual, his or her family, friends and at least one prison representative. Children with incarcerated parents experience serious emotional and physical consequences, Huikahi circles provide a process whereby offenders and their loved ones can find ways to heal from the harm by the crime and the punishment.


The Yellow Ribbon Project helps former offenders find employment and housing, reconnect with families and friends, or learn new skills. 

For instance, you can be trained in website development and then you are offered vocational training and work programmes after release through an agency called the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises which can help you find a job.


The project From Prison Back Home is based on a restorative justice approach emphasizing meditation and healing between offenders, for the purpose of repairing the harm caused by crime. 

The programme has consistently involved local council leaders, religious leaders, police, and civil society organizations doing work in the rehabilitation/reintegration of offenders. 


In the State of Orissa, the Biju Patnaik Open-Air Ashram helps prisoners by distributing relief materials to flooded villages. 


From a public perspective time in prison should be a turning point, but is it like that in reality? We need a better understanding of the life trajectories of the person that is in prison, in order to reintegrate him/her into society.

What works?

Opioid substitution therapy is far from the best strategies for reintegration and effective treatment, also intensive psychosocial support and/or supervision on release, have evidential results. Pharmacological and psychosocial interventions are promising strategies for stabilization.

It is well-established if we have a good drug treatment for prisoners that can reduce both drug use and rates of re-offending. The Lisbon agenda for prisons reported that “positive experience of in-prison treatment helps offenders to continue treatment after release.

Science suggests that even those who are not motivated to change will eventually become engaged, suggesting that it is a myth that treatment has to be voluntary to work.

Final word

It is a fact that the drug abusers have worse health than those who don’t take drugs before going to jail, or in jail. However, maybe prisons are not therapeutic institutions, but the reintegration process should start the first day when being incarcerated. 

Implementing maybe just one of these 7 Best strategies for reintegration of ex-offenders can be of crucial meaning both for society and prisoners. Why should the government care? Despite the cost, we investigated that the treatment in the criminal justice system saves money in the long run. RAND’s research found that a dollar spent on drug treatment will save society $7.5 in reduced crime and regained productivity

As stated in this article, jail needs to break the cycle of recidivism. The goals of drug treatment services in prisons must be that prisoners leave in a healthier state than when they arrived and their treatment is continued after release. Thus, the ultimate goal of all treatment is to achieve abstinence from the drug (or drugs) on which prisoners are dependent (with or without medication-assisted treatment).

If you think society only uses the prisoners as a cheap work force read this article!



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