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Philadelphia Court Eases Reentry Into Community and a Crime-Free Life

In Philadelphia, people just released from prison often return to the same streets where they were arrested, and some of them also return to their previous occupation: crime. A team of people at the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia is working to stop that cycle.

Judges, federal defenders, prosecutors, and probation officers in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania have developed a program that draws on a wealth of community services to help ex-offenders rebuild their lives as they transition back into society.

As explained in a new video, the court works with local employers and unions to help participants find jobs. Nonprofit advocacy groups and universities help them with legal and financial advice. The probation office provides regular progress check-ins and coordinates an array of needed services, from housing to drug treatment.

Student therapists from Drexel University provide cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps participants gain control over negative thought patterns and emotions that can lead to crime.

For their part, participants must complete a 52-week program designed to help them change their behavior. The program is resource intensive, but it has resulted in low recidivism rates among graduates. Across the country, other federal court districts have introduced similar programs to help people stay out of prison.

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