What does it mean to be “reentry ready”? Reentry refers to a person returning to their community after time in prison or jail. “Reentry ready” means that a person has the necessary resources to overcome the obstacles of successful return to their community.
Reentering a community after incarceration is not an easy task. It is difficult to find someone who will rent to you. Many landlords have a policy that they will not rent to someone who has been incarcerated. While this is understandable from a landlord perspective, it is a huge barrier for people who have a criminal background. Finding a job can also be challenging. Many employers do not want to take a chance on you and depending on how long you were incarcerated, you may not have the skills needed to succeed in the current job market. Without employment, paying off past debts is almost impossible. As you can imagine, without employment and housing it is extremely difficult to be a positive contributor to the community.
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Division of Extension’s financial educators are working to provide support to current and formerly incarcerated individuals. One resource being provided is the class Rent Smart. This class provides participants with the knowledge and skills to establish a positive relationship with a landlord, understand the application process, and learn the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords. Amy Mangan-Fischer, Fond du Lac County’s Human Development and Relationships Educator, has been teaching Rent Smart at the Fond du Lac County Jail since May 2022. Evaluation data shows that after taking the class, the participants feel more confident in their ability to obtain and maintain housing.
Mangan-Fischer has also been instrumental in the development of a statewide “Reentry Ready Resources” website. The goal of the website is to support all legally impacted individuals (spouses, families, and the individuals themselves) so that the reentry process is easier to navigate. This is in the best interest of the individuals, their families, and our communities. The website has been described as “easy to navigate,” “well thought out,” and “hits all of the key areas.” Check it out here: “Reentry Ready Resources.”