The Journey Home works to reduce recidivism (return to prison), creating a stronger, safer community. Focusing on the areas of residency, employment, support and treatment, as well as transportation and education, program staff assesses the needs, potential barriers and strengths facing individuals newly released from prison (returning citizens). Among the most common barriers: homelessness and housing issues, employment skills or discrimination, addiction and/or mental health needs, education/training and transportation.
MUM’s Resource Specialists provide one-to-one case management, Food Share eligibility screening and referral, program linkage and referral, employability and life skills training, job placement assistance, and ongoing support and monitoring to reduce recidivism. Resource Specialists also spend time building relationships with area employers and landlords to increase the opportunities for housing and employment for returning citizens. Our program staff conducts in-reach visits to area prisons to connect with individuals prior to their release and to build a more seamless return to the community.
Monthly Service Fairs through the Journey Home serve as a one-stop shop to provide access to multiple resources in one location. Each month the Service Fair has a theme built around Residency, Employment, Support and Treatment. Community based organizations and groups provide information about their services, including training, education, transportation, housing, treatment and support networks. Each Service Fair includes a welcome home, an inspirational speaker and, in keeping with the tradition across faiths to offer hospitality, a light meal.
A small micro-loan program is set up through private donations for active program participants to help them access assistance with security deposits, work clothes, school supplies, etc… A non-perishable emergency food pantry is also on site.
On a weekly basis MUM’s re-entry team receives 5-10 letters from inmates all around the state and even from Wisconsinites imprisoned out of state. These individuals are looking for help in preparing for their release. All letters are responded to, even if the individual is not returning to Dane County, our staff do their best to provide resource information specific to the area the person will be residing in after their release.
MT is a Journey Home participant. Because of the nature of his offense he has additional restrictions placed on him through his Supervision with the WI Department of Corrections. These restrictions add additional barriers to rebuilding one’s life. MT was eager to begin working with his Resource Specialist to put the pieces back in place. Prior to prison he had had a good work history, and even had, with the help of his Resource Specialist obtained some letters of support from previous employers. MT was a certified welder and had good mechanical aptitude but still could not find a job that would not conflict with the rules of his supervision. MT continued to work with his Resource Specialist, exploring job leads, brainstorming other areas where his skill set might be valuable. MT was active in MUM’s employability classes and continued to attend those while looking for employment. MT was open to almost any type of employment and continued to look. During this time MT experience a significant medical issue. Despite having a family history of colon cancer he had not received any screening while incarcerated. When he went to a routine check-up with his new physician, the doctor ordered a screen and MT was diagnosed with colon cancer. He underwent surgery, removing a significant portion of his colon and began to recuperate, all the time staying in contact with his Resource Specialist for support.
While MT was recuperating he received call with an offer of employment with a farm implement company. The job was set to begin in July, but as MT and his Resource Specialist explained to the employer, MT needed a little more time to recover. The employer, himself a colon cancer survivor was willing to wait for MT to be cleared for work. Once cleared MT began his new, full-time job at $10.00 per hour, working 40-44 hours per week. MT continued to work with his Resource Specialist and check-in, he had good relationship with his boss and enjoyed his job. In October 2014 MT met with his Resource Specialist and informed him that he was getting a raise and the keys to the shop in which he worked. Through all of this MT still did not have housing. However, with his increase in wages and references he was finally able to obtain an apartment in November 2014. As of August 2015 MT is still employed, still housed, still enjoys his job and volunteers with MUM, attending Journey Home Service Fairs, sharing his story with other men and women newly released from prison.