WAYMART, Pa. — A simple message for inmates at SCI Waymart in Wayne County as they prepare for the next chapter of their lives.
"Our responsibility is not to take a look at what you did, but what you want to do and how we can help you do that," said case manager Nathan Gadsden.
It's the return of the career and re-entry fair at the prison since the pandemic struck.
Now 180 inmates are expected to be released within the next year. So outreach groups and employers are helping them get a plan in motion.
"They meet a lot of people from the outside that can give them a lot of resources like housing help, help with utilities when they get out. Job placement, information on parole and probation," said SCI Waymart Superintendent Mark Wahl.
Outreach specialists say programs like these are vital, as not all inmates have a supportive system at home for when theY leave prison.
"If I went around the room right now, they all have different levels of support. Some have no support at all," said Gadsden.
"So when they can meet key leaders of these organizations that are here to help them, it really helps them hit the ground running," said Wahl.
Nathan Gadsden is a case manager for the tri-county "SOAR" program. He explains that after people have spent many years serving time, a lot of basic needs fall through the cracks. Which, if not met, could land them back in prison.
"Then you get lost in the gaps, 'OK, how am I going to pay for work boots?' Our program pays for those. 'I need special work clothes.' Maybe I'm working in a restaurant, and I need to wear all black. So, it's these so-called little things that aren't little things," explained Gadsden.
Officials from SCI Waymart say state prisons across Pennsylvania hold similar re-entry programs.
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