“I’m really glad that I did mediation with my family while I was still in prison. The mediators gave us space to talk and figure out things. I did everything that I said I was going to do when I was in mediation. I’ve been home for months now and am working a couple of jobs trying to get back on my feet. I’m staying at my grandma’s house now helping out to take care of her and being supportive of my family. Everything is going good for me. I definitely recommend mediation!”
-Formerly incarcerated individual
“One of my sons was in prison. All my children know my rules and if they live with me they follow my rules or they get out. In mediation, my son was able to express himself about what he would and would not do after release. I reminded him of my rules. So, mediation helped me to understand where he was coming from. It helped to open our line of communication.”
-Father of a formerly incarcerated individual
“My husband was in prison for 21 years. The first night he was home we shared the same bed and have every night for the past year. We can do that because mediation helped to bring us closer through better communication and by carrying out the agreements we made in mediation. For example, we make sure we have time for family and each other. You get out of mediation as much as you put into it. It helped us. Everyone could benefit from mediation. It can’t do anything but help.”
-Wife of a formerly incarcerated individual
"I loved it [mediation] and was very impressed! I felt that I learned things about him that I would have never known. Now I understand how he was feeling when he dealt with the process of his mother’s death.”
-Grandmother of formerly incarcerated individual
“When I was locked up, it gave me a chance to really talk and get stuff out of the way. There was a lot of stuff I wanted to talk about and was able to do that in mediation. Afterwards, things didn’t work out so well with my spouse, but mediation helped us to talk about stuff. It used to be hard for me to talk about things that bothered me. With my grandmother it was different, mediation helped our relationship. Now we are closer than we were before. Now it is easy for me to talk to my family after mediation.”
-Formerly incarcerated individual
“He had to see for himself what I was going through on the outside to see what I was dealing with his kids how I was dealing with it to know for himself how it was. When he was in prison, he thought I was just ignoring him and now he knows that I was busy working and taking care of the kids. We now have a better understanding of our conflict. When he came home, he did what he agreed to do in mediation.”
-Sister of formerly incarcerated individual
“Mediation helped us a lot with our communication. It helped me to understand his mindset and how positive he was before his release. Things are going well since his release, except he needs help finding a job.”
-Fiance of formerly incarcerated individual
The criminal justice literature highlights the importance of strong relationships to support successful re-entry and to reduce recidivism. Re-entry mediation responds to this need by providing an opportunity for an inmate and family members or other support people to meet, with the help of a non-judgmental mediator, before release to have an open, honest, and often difficult dialogue to prepare for the transition back into the community. Sometimes there is lingering conflict from before the incarceration. Sometimes there is resentment, anger, and shame as a result of the charge or things which took place during the incarceration. Re-entry mediation creates a space for everyone involved to talk about their experiences, be heard by each other, and establish a plan on how to move forward productively before the individual is released.
Re-entry mediation has been shown to decrease likelihood of arrest post-release, with additional mediation sessions decreasing the probability of arrest further.
By rebuilding relationships between inmates and family or support people in the community, Re-entry mediation taps into the resources indigenous to the community, strengthens these connections, and allows for collaborative transition planning, involving the inmate and their family members. In Maryland, re-entry mediation has been established in almost every state facility and in a number of local detention centers. Results from program evaluations demonstrate the success of re-entry mediation in improving relationships and supporting a smooth transition to the community.
This site provides an overview of the re-entry mediation program, highlights successes, and provides best practice guidance for those interested in replicating the program in other parts of the county.