HARRISBURG – Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel has announced the delivery of an interactive reentry resource map that includes information for offenders reentering society following incarceration. The map can be accessed by anyone online, using any device, at here.
“Each year more than 20,000 offenders are released from state prison to communities across Pennsylvania,” Wetzel said. “These returning citizens bring with them a variety of needs which are crucial to address in order to ensure their success in the community. Helping released offenders to succeed in the community is smart correctional practice for enhancing public safety.”
The process of transitioning from prison to the community is often referred to as prisoner reentry. Several years ago the Department of Corrections developed reentry resource directories for each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, which were essentially like the phone book yellow pages for finding assistance in a variety of common needs areas experienced by offenders returning to the community. These needs areas include housing and transportation, employment, alcohol and other drug treatment, medical assistance, food assistance, mental health services, parenting and education services.
During the summer of 2013, these reentry resource directories were updated and expanded by the department to include additional services such as domestic violence/victim services, identification documents, legal assistance and military veteran services. In addition to updating/expanding these county directory documents, the department also believed that it was important to provide this information in a variety of different formats in order to maximize the accessibility of the information. One way to do that is to provide the information in an interactive map format, similar to Google Maps or other online maps.
Features of the interactive map include the ability to filter and select specific services of interest on the map, the ability to type in an address and zoom to that area on the map and the ability to download/print the full county directory document for any given county.
“In addition to being used by offenders being released from prison, we also expect that this will be useful to criminal justice professionals and community service brokers such as probation/parole agents, social workers, etc.,” Wetzel said. “Ultimately it is our hope that this map will provide another vehicle to make information about community services more accessible, in order to optimize the ability of individuals returning from prison to the community to receive the assistance that they need and become productive, law-abiding citizens. This enhances public safety and makesPennsylvania a safer place to live for everyone.”
The department also plans to load a static version of this map on a flash drive, along with other useful reentry-related information, to be provided to each offender upon his/her release from prison.
For more information, visit the DOC’s website at www.cor.state.pa.us.