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Lancaster County Prison helps prisoners ease back into society

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LANCASTER, Pa. -- Lancaster County Prison is adding another resource to help inmates re-enter society.

The average prisoner's stay is less than a year, and the prison releases about 6,000 inmates per year.

Prison workers are now handing out pamphlets to prisoners when they arrive. They provide information to help ease the transition back into society.

Deputy Warden Joe Shiffer said, "We don't have a lot of time with them. We want to get them the information right away, so they can start using it, start thinking about those types of things, getting those things in line upon release, so that they can be successful and again we don't want them to come back."

The pamphlet is called Roadmap to Successful Re-entry and created by the Re-Entry Management Organization. The pamphlet offers phone numbers and addresses to supportive services and advice on how to prepare for society.

Another program that helps female prisoners is the New Beginnings Program. It is geared toward assisting them personally and professionally.

Warden Cheryl Steberger-Simone said, "It gives them advice and offers them opportunities, things that they never had before when they were here. And it lets them know that there are people that care."

Many of the inmates said their next stop after this is to go back to school.

The director of New Choices, Tricia Nabors, said she has received a lot of positive feedback from the new program, which has helped hundreds of people.

Nabors said, "People say it changes their life. I've actually in this class we're finishing today, I've had a couple people say they feel like coming to prison was a work of God, that they've come here for a reason because it has helped them in terms of understanding who they are at their core."

The deputy warden said the end goal is to not have the inmates come back once they are released.

Shiffer said, "The decision-making process: Letting go of the decisions they made in the past so they can move forward, make better decisions, and be more successful upon re-entry."