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New Life Coalition Helping SD Ex-Prisoners Restart Their Lives

June 19, 2009

Sioux Falls, SD – A detour to prison can make it tough to get back on track in life for many former inmates. However, a faith-based coalition that's working to help all who are affected by the criminal justice system reports it's making progress helping ex-inmates transition back into society.

John Lang, president of the New Life Coalition, believes both the general public and the inmate benefit when the former prisoner receives post-sentence support. While many men and women are disheartened when they are released from prison - finding challenges in the job market and re-establishing connections with friends and family - he says a support network during the transition can boost morale and reduce recidivism.

"It’s very, very difficult without some sort of support group and support system for them to truly become successful. The recidivism rate in South Dakota is among the highest in the nation, and one of the reasons for that is the lack of transitional-type programs, but, it’s getting better."

Inmates often struggle just to survive after they leave prison, adds Lang.

"Most people assume that, once an inmate leaves prison, miraculously they’re just going to start hooking up with a better network, but that just does not automatically happen, obviously. Our network is trying to help them connect with different ministries to get them into a better, more-positive network."

Much of the Coalition's effort in recent years has been focused in Southeastern South Dakota, but the group plans to expand its work to the rest of the state. The Coalition operates on the premise that each inmate is important, and has great potential to succeed after reintegration into society. The New Life Coalition is sponsored by the Association of Christian Churches of South Dakota.

More information about the Coalition is available at www.newlifecoalition.org.

David Law, Public News Service - SD