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The Campus Lantern

In reentry simulation juniors experience hard landing after prison release

Maggie Boozer
Nolan McShane ’25 grapples with reentry

On April 3rd, SCH juniors faced a challenge never before seen by high schoolers. Thrust into a reentry simulation, students were tasked with fending for themselves amongst their classmates; they had to pay rent, buy food, and meet with their probation officers, among other things. The Eastern State Penitentiary ran the simulation, and seniors in Mrs. DiDonato’s crime class helped run the event at each station, such as social services, alcoholics anonymous, the pawn shop, transportation, jail, and more. The goal was to give students insight into life after incarceration. There were poster boards set up to encourage students to write down their thoughts during the simulation. I was Andrew, a young man who was recently convicted for five years for possession of drugs with intent to sell. Here is my story.

With just $150 to my name, in just the first week out of prison, I had to pay rent ($400) as well as purchase food and meet with my drug treatment officer. Things got even more complicated when a positive drug test got me fired from my part-time job, and I ended up in the homeless shelter without any food.

The following week started on the right foot, as I got my job back and received a paycheck for $180, still too poor to even afford rent for the week. Then came a setback. While shuffling through my wallet, my social security card, a necessity, was nowhere to be found. That’s when I began to notice how stacked the odds were against me. I darted over to fill out a form to grab a new card when the workers refused to let me borrow their pen to fill it out. I felt overwhelmed with rage. I felt ridiculous as I anxiously searched for something to write with.

Now that I had my social security card back, along with my shiny new paycheck that I couldn’t wait to cash, I felt like things were finally turning around. I went to meet with my probation officer for the first time in three weeks and was met with yet another positive drug test. I felt like I had run out of options. I resorted to stealing the three IDs of one of my peers and promptly selling them right back to him for $300. Unfortunately, this wretched act was seen by one of the facilitators, and I ended up right back where I started, in prison.

Before this simulation, I had no idea how difficult re-entering into society could be.

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About the Contributor
Michael Lee
Michael Lee, Staff Writer
Michael is a junior at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. He loves sports, talking to people, and taking pictures.
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    JoshApr 25, 2024 at 10:19 am

    Lovely article, truly a pleasant read. I would love to hear more opinions from your delicate voice.