Re-Entering Society: A How-To

TEEM helps reintegrate recently released inmates

Time is everything to an incarcerated individual. Many offenders know the exact date of their potential release. For some, chances at a brighter tomorrow are coming a little sooner than expected.

When TEEM participant Jamie Bassett was advised to see the unit manager at Kate Bernard Community Corrections Center, she initially thought the worse.

She was not expecting for her life to change for the better.

“I thought I was in trouble,” she said. “I was nervous. When I got there, the unit manager was giving me release papers.”

Jamie was released with the clothes she had on, personal savings of $364 preloaded on a debit card, a Department of Corrections ID card, and release papers. Jamie did not expect this day to come for at least six months.

Before she could even celebrate the news, she was faced with some overwhelming questions: “Where am I going to go? Who am I going to call?” It was late Friday evening, and Jamie knew calling her family wasn’t an option. Jamie’s mother passed away when she was a teenager, and she lost her father while incarcerated. Her remaining family were miles away in Tulsa and were unavailable to pick her up. Finally, she was able to reach a friend who agreed to drop her off at a sober living house.

On Monday morning, September 14, 2015, Jamie had been out for 48 hours. The first thing that she did was contact TEEM. She knew she would be able to find the support needed to help her begin the process of rebuilding her life.

“I would be struggling right now if it wasn’t for TEEM,” she said. “I had no clue as to what I was going to do.” After meeting with her TEEM case manager, she was able to receive a number of incentives aimed at helping her effectively reenter society.

“My case manager got me a gift card, a phone, and she is even helping me get rental assistance. She’s also enrolling me in TEEM’s re-entry program.”

TEEM provides assistance to individuals like Jamie who are reentering the community after a period of incarceration. TEEM is dedicated to breaking cycles of incarceration and poverty in Oklahoma through education, personal development, and work readiness training. TEEM strives to provide a hand up to our participants by systematically equipping them with the tools necessary to successfully transition into society.

Jamie said more community members should be interested in providing a hand up to displaced Oklahomans. “Everyone deserves a second chance.”