What is the UA Little Rock Reentry Initiative Program?
The program is a joint effort by volunteers from UA Little Rock and the Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) to aide inmates toward successful reentry into society once their sentences are over. The program allows inmates to address the circumstances of how and why they enter the prison system as well as how to avoid those same circumstances once out of prison. The participants in the program are 15% less likely to return to the prison system (recidivate). The program utilizes peer interaction with mentors, who themselves are incarcerated. Edna Ramirez, the director of the program, emphasizes that “we are [going to] provide [inmates] with the services to live a better life when you are released, but it is up to [them] if [they] are [going to] take the opportunity that we give [them] or not.” The inmates need to understand their choices and create scenarios that are different from the ones that landed them in prison to begin with. CBRIP is a highly sought after program by the inmates. The selection committee for the program requires participants to fulfill coursework in areas where knowledge may be the key to lowering recidivism rates.
Components of the program:
- Multiple Modules of Instruction
- 9 pg. Application Process
- Board Meetings
- Orientation, Homework, and Formal Graduation
- Liaison w/Inmate Leadership Councils
- Volunteers (Not Compensated)
- No Cost to Taxpayer
The ADC requested UA Little Rock to offer the program in more units. To accomplish this, volunteers are needed to facilitate the instruction. By working with the inmates, various individuals receive positive impacts to their lives such as, family, friends, employers, society, and of course, the inmates themselves. According to Ramirez, “We need volunteers who want to make a difference. If we can keep one, if we were able to touch one, then we have made a difference.”