Release and Recidivism

Conversation Guide

We all want our communities to be safe and our criminal justice system to be fair, humane and effective. When formerly incarcerated people return to their communities without a safety net, their recidivism rates run well above 60 percent. Some states have provided a safety net, such as job training, housing assistance, treatment for substance abuse and mental health and more, which, substantially reduces recidivism. What is different in communities with lower recidivism rates? What are the costs and benefits of our current practices and what opportunities are there to improve our systems? This conversation explores opportunities and obstacles to change with the goal that our community is safe for everyone.

Let's Get Started!

This Living Room Conversation flows through three rounds of questions and a closing. Some rounds ask you to answer each question. Others feature multiple questions that serve as conversation starters — you need only respond to the one or two you find most interesting.

Before You Begin...

Please go over the Conversation Agreements with your participants.

Introductions: Getting Started/
Why Are We Here?

What interested you or drew you to this conversation?

Round 1: Core Values

Answer one or more of the following:
  • What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
  • What would your best friend say about who you are and what inspires you?
  • What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country?

Round 2:

What are your thoughts on Release and Recidivism?

Remember that the goal for this Living Room Conversation is for all of us to listen and learn about where we have different opinions and where we have shared interests, intentions and goals. Answer ​one or more of the following questions:
  • What is an appropriate “road back to success” in our community for people who have been convicted?
  • If you or a loved one has been incarcerated, what did you/they need most (and when) upon release?
  • Since jobs and housing, along with other support, are needed to reduce recidivism, what solutions would you recommend?
  • Where is community safety and post-release programs on your top 10 community focus list? Why?

Round 3: Reflection & Next Steps

Answer ​one or more​ of the following questions:
  • In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation?
  • What new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
  • Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
  • Name one important thing that was accomplished here.
  • Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?

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Thank You!

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