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OurJourney

Reentry Simulations

A Reentry Simulation is an exercise that models the process of reintegrating back into society after incarceration. It helps those who have never experienced incarceration better understand the challenges a returning citizen might face upon reentry, such as finding housing, employment, and accessing social services.
Each participant assumes the identity of a recently released individual and has four “weeks”, each lasting 15 minutes, to interact with volunteers at booths representing reentry support organizations.
Because every identity is different, every participant interacts with the simulation uniquely, which correlates to the wide variety of reentry experiences for those who actually do rejoin our communities after their incarceration. It is a profoundly jarring yet enlightening experience.

Never experienced a Reentry Simulation? Watch this short video from OurJourney's Reentry Simulation at Duke University in 2023 to get an idea of what it's like.

Please note: The North Carolina Department of Adult Correction is now offering Reentry Simulation facilitation for any organization in North Carolina that is interested in hosting one. While you are free to connect with OurJourney to facilitate your Reentry Simulation, we strongly urge any state agency, especially, to involve the NC DAC in your plans. For more information you may contact Special Projects Administrator Nicole Spruell at Nicole.Spruell@dac.nc.gov or Director Lateisha Thrash, Director of Reentry Services, Division of Rehabilitation and Reentry, at Lateisha.Thrash@dac.nc.gov.

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A Reentry Simulation is an exercise that models the process of reintegrating back into society after incarceration. It helps those who have never experienced incarceration better understand the challenges a returning citizen might face upon reentry, such as finding housing, employment, and accessing social services. Each participant assumes the identity of a recently released individual and has four “weeks”, each lasting 15 minutes, to interact with volunteers at booths representing reentry support organizations. Because every identity is different, every participant interacts with the simulation uniquely, which correlates to the wide variety of reentry experiences for those who actually do rejoin our communities after their incarceration. It is a profoundly jarring yet enlightening experience.

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Most Reentry Simulations, and all that OurJourney facilitates, are free to attend.

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OurJourney always promotes on our Facebook page the Reentry Simulations that we facilitate, providing links for registration. Click here to visit OurJourney’s Facebook page. Unfortunately, there isn’t one place online you can go to find out all of the Reentry Simulations scheduled to take place across the state. However, sometimes we hear of other Reentry Simulations scheduled to occur, so feel free to email us at contact@ourjourney2gether.com and ask if we know of one scheduled for your community. If your county has a Local Reentry Council or other reentry support network, you may also contact them to ask about Reentry Simulations. 

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The host organization will -

  • Work with OurJourney to secure a date and time. OurJourney can facilitate only a certain number of Reentry Simulations each quarter, so we urge you to contact us at least three months prior to your desired date.

  • Determine what type of Reentry Simulation you want to have. There are three basic models: 1) Only the Reentry Simulation and Debriefing, which will last around 2 hours, 2) The Reentry Simulation, Debriefing and Speech, which will last around 2.5 hours, and 3) The Reentry Simulation, Debriefing, Speech and Meal/Network Time, which will last around 3 hours.

  • Determine how many people you want to attend. OurJourney recommends no fewer than 50 and no more than 100. Too few participants and there isn’t enough “controlled chaos,” while too many and there’s too much chaos. We’ve discovered that a perfect number is around 65 to 75 participants.

  • Secure a venue. This venue should be large enough to accommodate between 65 and 115 people and should have ample space for movement. Reentry Simulations are active! As an example, a room roughly three-fourths the size of a basketball court is generally sufficient. The venue should be accessible for those with disabilities and have at least two bathrooms. The venue should also offer enough parking nearby to accommodate all of the participants and volunteers.

  • Make sure that the venue already has the following: 1) At least 15 6-foot tables, 2) A sound system and wireless microphone, 3) Enough chairs for every participant and at least 15 volunteers. If the venue doesn’t already have these items, you will need to make arrangements to bring them to the venue.

  • Provide all set-up and clean-up services. OurJourney will provide you with a layout guide for the tables and chairs.

  • Work with OurJourney to promote the Reentry Simulation.

  • Provide the volunteers needed for the Reentry Simulation, which is typically around 15 people. These individuals do not need to have any experience volunteering at Reentry Simulations, but should be available to attend a 60-minute virtual training session at least one week before the event and arrive at least 45 minutes early on the day of the event. OurJourney may be able to help find volunteers, depending on your county and OurJourney’s contacts in that county.

 

OurJourney will -

  • Work with you to secure a date and time. We will do our best to accommodate your calendar.

  • Create an infographic announcing the event and share it with you for you to use for promotional purposes, if desired.

  • Create online registration forms for participants and volunteers, if desired, and provide you with these lists. You can then use the contact information for follow-up, if desired. Participation at a Reentry Simulation facilitated by OurJourney is always free.

  • Work with you to promote the Reentry Simulation. We will post announcements about the event on our social media sites several times before the event.

  • Bring with us all of the Reentry Simulation supplies, including LifeCards, pens, instruction sheets, etc.

  • Help locate volunteers, if possible, and provide pre-event training for all of the volunteers.

  • Facilitate the entire Reentry Simulation or arrange for an OurJourney partner to facilitate, depending on location.

  • Help locate a formerly incarcerated individual to give the Speech, if desired. This will preferably be someone who was returned after incarceration to your county.

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The purpose of a Reentry Simulation is to open people’s eyes to the oftentimes overwhelming challenges our returning citizens face as they try to rebuild their lives. As such, anyone who is interested in experiencing this will make a perfect participant. OurJourney also highly recommends that you invite people in your community in leadership positions, such as judges, parole officers, attorneys, business owners, local politicians (such as city council members and county commissioners), educational leaders, youth mentors, pastors and community advocates. These individuals are often in positions that allow them to impact the reentry community in your county, either directly or by making reentry support more of a priority.

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OurJourney can help you determine an estimated cost during our initial consultation, but it will depend on what type of Reentry Simulation you want to have (see above) and other variables. For example, if your organization already has the venue or has access to a venue at no (or little) cost, that will save you a great deal, as that is typically the most expensive part. At the low end, it may not cost much more than a few hundred dollars; at the high end, it may cost a few thousand dollars. OurJourney never charges any fees for our services. We do ask that you consider covering the cost for up to two hotel rooms for us (approximate value: $300). This is not a requirement for our assistance, however.

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Awesome! Please email us at contact@ourjourney2gether.com and let us know you’d like to speak with someone about hosting a Reentry Simulation. Tell us your organization’s address and phone number(s) and when you would like to host a Reentry Simulation. We’ll follow up within 48 hours to discuss setting up a time for a virtual meeting or telephone call. Remember, OurJourney can facilitate only a certain number of Reentry Simulations each quarter, so we urge you to contact us at least three months prior to your desired date.

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