From Prison to General Population

[subtitle]The case of the Jones siblings brings questions of proper rehabilitation[/subtitle]



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Catherine (right) and Curtis Jones (left)




By Diamond Hunt-Coleman
Outlook Writer

Small things that individuals take for granted such as smartphones, social media, and the ability to drive are the same things Curtis and Catherine Jones have been unable to do. Curtis and Catherine were convicted of first-degree murder at the tender ages of 12 and 13 for shooting and ultimately killing their father`s girlfriend.

The case of the Jones siblings is considered a troubling one. They ultimately turned to the extreme measure of murder after the duo tried to convince their father and his girlfriend that a male relative was sexually assaulting them and neither offered any mode of protection. After an investigation by what is now known as The Department of Children and Family Services proved that the brother sister duo was indeed telling the truth, it is said that their father didn’t believe them.

In 1999, the brother and sister walked into prison as children and now in 2015 they are leaving as fully-grown adults. They’ve missed milestones such as obtaining a driver`s license and attending their high school prom. So the question is, how does the Department of Justice prepare individuals such as the Jones siblings to re-enter society and become productive citizens?

According to the Florida Department of Corrections communications office “most offenders have limited skills and community contact and are unable to identify support services available in their community. Without skill development opportunities and support systems a return to criminal behavior is often probable.”

The state offers programs that cater to the needs of inmates that are about to be released with a focus in the areas of academics, vocation, substance abuse, cognitive behavioral restructuring, parenting, and life skills.

The department has structured a 100-hour Transition Skills Program that is designed to make the transition between life in incarceration and life in the general population a smooth one. The program makes sure that inmates that are being released have the necessary skills to write a resume, use a computer, conduct a successful interview, and how to properly bank.

However sometimes it takes more than a program to make sure that these individuals do not become repeat offenders. It takes a strong and supportive support system to help offenders such as the Jones siblings to understand that they are not their past.

“One of the challenges that people face when they get out of prison is internal shame. They already understand that when they come out they have an F. They’ve already been labeled as a felon and a failure,” said the Rev. Tyree Anderson, the supervisory chaplain for the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Tallahassee, Fla. “This means that they have to have the contacts on the outside and they have to have people that believe them. They have to have people on the inside that tell them “you can make it.”

According to Anderson, 62 percent of inmates who are released from prison return within three years because they do not have the hope when leaving out of the prison`s doors that they can make it on the outside.
Ultimately, in order for an inmate to become a “productive” member of society upon their release, not only must they take part in some of the resources and programs offered to them while incarcerated, the most important part is making sure that they have the strongest support system they can find upon their release.