It’s hard to believe, but for years there was no handy and up-to-date directory linking ex-offenders to service providers in the Chicago area. That meant there were thousands of men and women being released from prison with no resource guide to get them connected with the help that’s available.
We saw a huge unmet need and are working to provide it. We’re working in consultation with the Illinois Department of Corrections Division of Parole to produce a free re-entry directory to help connect inmates and ex-offenders with service providers in the Chicago area. We’re calling it RED (Re-Entry Directory) Chicago. There’s no charge to service providers or ex-offenders – it’s a free service.
The paper version of RED Chicago will be kept around 45-55 pages (much shorter and it would be lacking in important information, much longer and it would become too unwieldy and overwhelming). There is also additional bonus material for ex-offenders, available on our website. We want to give a shout out to the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, for their remarkable publication The GO Guide: Getting on after getting out (a reentry guide for Colorado). They’ve given us permission to borrow liberally from their work and include it (and tweak it) however we wish.
RED Chicago is specifically designed for use by ex-offenders themselves, and has an unfolding 5-part process to facilitate effective planning:
- Getting Hope
- Getting Home
- Getting Organized
- Getting Help
- Getting Going
We’ll distribute copies to parole officers, at Illinois Dept. of Correction-sponsored “Re-Entry Summits” (for current inmates) and “Summits of Hope” (for ex-offenders).
We’re designing it for printing it on normal 8½ X 11 paper for easy photo-copying.
If the directory is going to be useful to ex-offenders, it’s really important that our information continues to be accurate and up-to-date. That means we plan on having our RED Chicago volunteer team doing new, updated editions 3-4 times a year, so check back periodically for the latest edition. We also plan, with subsequent editions, to solicit feedback and suggestions from ex-offenders themselves about what’s missing, what’s inaccurate, and how to improve the directory.