The Secret's Out: A Transformative and Comprehensive Guide for Returning Citizens

The Secret’s Out offers two program models—Footsteps for those incarcerated and Reentry for released parolees—to help avoid and decrease high numbers of behavioral problems by returning citizens currently experiencing addictions, socially diminished lifestyles, financial hardships, and homelessness. The Footsteps and Reentry models, once utilized and embraced, can restore a sense of purpose, stability, pride, and focus to our returning citizens.

Footsteps has a unique program design (with ten specialized areas of focus) that deals with modern-day realities and addresses unique issues in practical and productive ways. Its holistic self-help approach empowers individuals to actively participate in the transformation of their lives. Its major goal is to assist our returning citizens, while incarcerated, with gaining the necessary skills and training to achieve independent living upon release. Correctional institutions must examine and address the unique issues men and women are confronted with when entering the prison. Often, these men and women are still suffering from immediate effects of broken relationships and shock of the newfound incarceration. As a result, it is often difficult for them to adjust to the many rules and regulations imposed on them by a structured environmental program.

The Footsteps model is the foundation of the transformative thinking necessary for success upon release and the precursor for the second phase of the independent living framework: Reentry for returning citizens. The second phase of the transformation process is Reentry. The Reentry model was created and developed as a guide to assist the reentry community with having a framework for success with our returning citizens. It is very important that all reentry service providers speak the same language and have a clear understanding that there are different phases of the reentry process. In this way, we have a clear vision of the goals and can effectively monitor which phase a client has achieved and received services.

The long-term goals of both program models are moving the clients toward independent living without risky behaviors that contribute to criminal mentality and negative outcomes. It is also important to assist the returning citizen in understanding what mental health is and how to maintain mental health wellness. There must be a discussion and exploration about the different ways stress and trauma impacts our well-being, as well as seeking and developing coping strategies, such as stress reduction activities. In addition, the overall physical health and well-being of the individual must be given a focus, and individuals must be educated about affordable methods of healthy eating to guide them in maintaining their physical health, healthy lifestyle, the importance of regular checkups, and having proper medical coverage and a primary-care physician. It is the ability to have and enjoy gainful employment and independent housing. It is the understanding of and enjoying a positive relationship with family and friends. The Secret’s Out is a book that provides a blueprint for correctional administrators, correctional staff, public officials, reentry agencies and reentry organizations to use as a guide to effectively assist the men and women who have experienced incarceration and now seeking to gain the soft skills and training necessary to achieve employment and independent living.

--Anthony Isaacs