When people have served their time and are back in society, many of them have trouble re-adjusting to everyday life. Oftentimes, depending on how long they were in prison, the outside world has changed completely from what they knew so many years before. Although this idea of being a stranger in one’s own world is a growing societal issue, there are very few programs designed to help smooth the process of re-entry. One such program found within Fort Worth is the First Stop Reentry Coalition, designed to help former inmates find jobs, homes, and transportation to get settled into a new life.
“Tarrant County is ahead of the game with that. They have done a great job putting this reentry program together, and I know Steve Gordon with the reentry- we just started a new program. Or, HE started a new program: First Stop. Which as soon as we get a loved one home, we take them directly over there. And it’s just a lot of information, but we help them with everything from clothes, food, medical, looking for a job, preparing for a job, such as that.” -Pat Prophitt
“That led to me coming to Fort Worth and doing consulting because Tarrant County is a very progressive county, probably one of the best reentries counties in America that we know of. As far as the community being very proactive, being very desirous to figure it out, and having funding and support across a broad array of organizations to create reentry solutions; I’ve never really seen a place like this. And so I started consulting part time, then it went full time in May of this year, so in May of this year I moved here to run this project full time. And the project that I’m in charge of is called the Re-entry First Stop Center for Tarrant County. We’ve created a brand new center here where we’re sitting, and it’s very unique. It’s a welcome center for people coming home from prison and jail, or just for people on probation: they don’t have to have been incarcerated. We’ll welcome anybody here, they just have to be 18 or older and residents of Tarrant County. And we engage them in whatever level of service they need. And we’re very inclusive here, try to be very welcoming and hospitable, and we’re basically funded through Tarrant County and some other funding to be the resource coordinator so that we know everything that’s out there in the community. We’ve created a resource directory that has 80 categories of resources, so our continuum of care is very broad, very thorough. And when we show that to people coming out of prison that we have 80 categories of resources for them, they’ve never seen anything like it. They’re just completely blown away. And then we not only create that directory, but then we put services with it to help them access those resources. Nobody’s ever really done it that way before.” -Steve Gordon
“And so we divide people who come in the door into two groups: low need, and high need. A low need person is somebody who comes in and they just got out of prison, but they may have some help waiting for them in the community. We call that reentry capitol. They may have a family that’s willing to house them, or they may have a job that’s waiting for them, or they may have a vehicle, or some combination of things. And they just need some additional help accessing the resources in the community and some coaching and some direction. And so those people- the low need people-we can serve them right here in our center. The high need people, on the other hand, are probably homeless, mentally ill, co-occurring drug or alcohol addiction with mental illness, and severe of dire poverty… all that stuff, all at the same time. And we’re not really set up for that. But we are a referral center and we know where those programs are that could give them what we would call intensive case management and other related services within the community. Because there is stuff out there, they just need to have some help getting plugged into those services.” -Steve Gordon