We waited a long time, but it was worth it! In May, 2019, we held our first statewide prison reentry meeting, and on Oct. 5, 2022, we held our second. Seventy-five people from 32 different organizations discussed/shared ideas on mentoring individuals leaving prison.
There was an amazing panel of formerly incarcerated individuals who spoke about the mentoring that helped them succeed. We heard from Josh McNeil from North Central Correctional Facility (Rockwell City) about an inmate-led reentry group. And we heard from groups across the state on their mentoring strategies. Kathy Culbertson of Iowa Correctional Institution for Women (Mitchellville) also spoke and answered questions.
The meeting was organized to build connections between organizations doing similar work. We had 4 breakout groups that encouraged this. The most common feedback was that we needed more time in these small groups because as one person said, "I could have talked all day."
Thanks to Plymouth Congregational Church, Doren Walker, Randi Radosevich of St. Vincent de Paul, Sue Hutchins and Jason Darrah. And thanks to all the incredible people and organizations doing such important work helping people leave prison and return to the community.