PRINCESS ANNE — Newly-released inmates who need the skills required to get back into the community can get support from Positive Reinforcements Inc., the newly opened community-based nonprofit that helps men and women overcome obstacles to reentry.
April Alexander said programs from anger management to money management are offered. There are case managers and mentors providing assistance, and while this is not a job placement program Positive Reinforcements can help get the documents an employer will need from a new worker whether it’s a resume or Social Security card.
There is even a small selection of clothing so individuals can dress for success at an interview.
A disproportionate number of formerly incarcerated persons slip back into the system but Ms. Alexander said Positive Reinforcements will help them work through their parole and probation obligations while moving toward their personal goals.
It’s a 90-day program, and case management will extend it if necessary "but we don’t want to do that," Ms. Alexander said. "We want them to get out, find a job, and finish everything they have to do with Parole and Probation and start over fresh."
If mental health is an issue, the client will be referred just a few doors away to J. David Collins & Associates.
To start, the program is for persons from Somerset and Wicomico County, then will expand to Worcester and Dorchester counties. Rondell Dennis is the board president.
Ms. Alexander said her background includes victim advocacy and admits her first idea was to start a program for those suffering from domestic violence, "but I chose this because I knew it would be more challenging." She said it is also needed, as she has seen people come in and out of prison "and they don’t get the help that they need and go right back in jail."
Longterm Ms. Alexander is researching transitional housing because some newly-released inmates aren’t welcome by their families — or need to stay away from their former environment to keep out of trouble.
"It would help them a lot," she said. "Most of them are homeless when they get out" and can’t get housing because of their record.
A ceremonial ribbon cutting was held Sept. 20 with leaders of the Princess Anne Chamber of Commerce in attendance. President Lynell Fletcher Pugh said something like this is unique to other counties, "and it’s right here." "It’s a good service for the town," she said.