PREP: Post-Release Education and Preparation

PREP is a long term supervised release program concentrating on the unique needs of formerly incarcerated people who entered prison as children.

Bryan Stevenson, center, with PREP clients.

More than half a million people are released from prison every year in the U.S. with virtually no help to manage the inherent challenges of re-entering society. Stringent parole conditions and a lack of support for those re-entering the community have created a high recidivism rate among parolees, who face exploitative fees charged by private companies and are threatened with parole revocation and re-incarceration if they cannot afford to pay.

Employment is critical to successful re-entry, but there are significant obstacles to employment and business opportunities. Formerly incarcerated people are also prevented from voting in many states. Nationwide, 4.4 million Americans who have served their prison sentences nonetheless are denied the right to vote, and 13 percent of African American men are disenfranchised, which is seven times the national average.1 Brennan Center for Justice, “Voting Rights Restoration.”

In 2007, EJI started PREP, a re-entry program that provides support and services for clients when they are released from prison.  We assist clients with basic things like getting a drivers’ license, finding a place to live, and applying for a job.

Some clients receive additional support with things like arranging transportation that allows them to maintain employment, dealing with changes in technology during their incarceration, and managing finances. We also provide therapy and counseling for clients to help them cope with the trauma of incarceration and assist in the transition from prison.

Our re-entry program has been a particularly important program for our juvenile clients.  People who entered adult prisons as juveniles and have been incarcerated for years face unique challenges when they are released. Their experience with the outside world is limited to that of a teenager—some never learned to drive a car, had their own bank account, or held a job. To succeed on parole or after release, they need education about life skills and how to cope with the daily decisions adults face in the outside world, and support in dealing with the mental and emotional challenges of re-entry.

PREP is a long-term supervised release program concentrating on the unique needs of people who entered prison before they were 16 years old. Through PREP, we provide employment, daily supervision, counseling from licensed mental health professionals, and educational programming for clients who entered state prison as children.