Rapid City Re-Entry Program helps ex-offenders stay out of trouble - KOTA Territory News

Rapid City Re-Entry Program helps ex-offenders stay out of trouble

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Jason Tarr

After serving time in prison for multiple DUI convictions, he had to start over.

"You get out and you've got nothing and then you run into all the obstacles," Robert Red Bear Senior said.  "It's hard on a person."

Red Bear Sr. was sleeping on the floor in an apartment that he was barely able to afford.  That's when he said he got a call from the Rapid City Offender Re-Entry Program.

"I was very happy because at the time, I thought (I had) nothing: no help and no family," Red Bear Sr. said.  "I felt like it was a hopeless cause."

The Re-Entry Program provided him with two months rent and set him up with part-time jobs where he could earn enough money to buy needed household items.

"Without them (the program), I would never have been able to make it," Red Bear Sr. said.  "I probably would have been disappointed, hopeless, angry probably.  I probably would have gave up."

According to the South Dakota Department of Corrections, about 45 percent of those released from the prison system do re-offend within three years.  That's what the Rapid City Offender Re-Entry Program seeks to counter.

Program Coordinator Lisa Swallow gets referrals from state and federal prisons.  A similar program, Rebound, works primarily with the county jail system.

Swallow also works with local parole officers.  She links the recent parolees with all kinds of local resources.

"The first 90 days is crucial for them to getting their resources met and that's the highest time for the recidivism rate," Swallow said.

National statistics show re-entry programs reduce the rate of re-offending by 50 percent.  About 20 states have these programs.

"They helped me through all the difficulties along the road," Red Bear Sr. said.

Now Red Bear Sr. has a full-time job and is even training to be a future mentor with the program.

"It would make me have some self-worth to help," Red Bear Sr. said.  "Because with my knowledge of what I went through, I will be able to help younger people understand how addictions are."

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The Rapid City Offender Re-Entry program is looking for people who want to serve as mentors.  For more information on how to become a mentor or additional information about the program, please call Lisa Swallow at (605) 716-4005.

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518 St. Joseph St.
Rapid City, SD 57701

Telephone: 605.342.2000
Fax: 605.342.7305

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