‘We have to equip these people to actually be stable’: Panelists say successful re-entry programs can close the revolving door

Local News

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA)– Most of the gun violence in the headlines across Central Illinois is committed by people with histories of similar behavior, and the majority of those offenders end up caught in our prisons’ revolving doors.

That was the topic of discussion brought forward by a panel at the Champaign County Community Coalition’s first in-person meeting since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group was made up of representatives from Rosecrance, the Housing Authority of Champaign County, the Champaign County Re-Entry Council and FirstFollowers.

The group of community leaders said helping a formerly incarcerated person successfully re-enter society is the way to close that revolving door and work toward improving the rate of gun violence across the region.

A lack of access to things like housing, jobs, even transportation, health insurance or an ID can hold people back, according to the panelists.

“I mean you have to go to this job interview and then you need a phone. If you’re just returning home from prison, they’re not giving out phones at the front door,” explained Crushion Stubbs, an organizer with FirstFollowers.

“And so we have to equip these people to actually be stable, to be able to make that successful transition.”

The group shared examples of what’s been changed to improve outcomes. For example, the Housing Authority no longer uses most of the criteria from background screenings to place people in housing. A representative said the data showed it was keeping formerly incarcerated people from having homes after they’ve served their time.

Champaign police have responded to 231 shootings and shots fired incidents this year and 15 homicides, according to Interim Chief Matthew Henson. Three of those homicides were in the last month.

Urbana Police Chief Bryant Seraphin said there has been an average of three days between shooting events in the city recently.

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