The criminal justice program at Seton Hall took advantage of National Criminal Justice month in March as it hosted the “Prisoner Re-Entry” event to spread awareness of how communities can assist former prisoners with their re-entry into society.
This discussion event on Tuesday, March 15 was presented and moderated by John Paitakes, senior faculty associate in the criminal justice department. Paitakes has experience in the criminal justice field as a probation officer for 29 years and he also served on the N.J. Parole Board for six years. According to Paitakes, about 80 attendees were at the event.
Two panel discussions were presented by Lashelle White-Corley (2007 Seton Hall alumna) and James Plousis, New Jersey State Parole Board Chairman. Corley, a licensed social worker, is also the author of “Hooray! Hooray! Daddy’s on His Way!,” a resource book for children who have a parent in prison.
Corley emphasized the importance of addressing mental health and substance abuse issues that are common among prisoners, as well as making sure that newly-released individuals can “get over their fear of returning to society.”
In her discussion, Corley focused on matters of working with the children of individuals who are currently in jail or recently released.
“My true advocacy is for the kids. I had friends who had parents in prison, and it is just terrible when your mom or your dad miss your events at school,” Corley said. “I observed the prisoner reentry process happen right outside my front door.”
Plousis who also formerly served as US Marshall, as well as in the FBI and Secret Service, now works with inmates who are recently released from prison and individuals on parole in New Jersey. Plousis eases these prisoners’ transition back into society.
“As a country, we don’t know what we want to do with prisoners,” Plousis said. “Some people want to provide more college courses to inmates, while others are still mad that we feed prisoners.”
Plousis continued to emphasize the importance of providing job training to prisoners while they are serving time, and working to address mental health issues.
“We want to make sure that newly-released inmates have the tools they need to succeed,” Plousis said.
Megan O’Malley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org