Imprisoned Man in Handcuffs behind bars

How To Prepare When A Loved One Is About To Be Released From Prison

The impending release of a loved one from prison can be a time of mixed emotions — relief, anticipation, and anxiety.

It’s a moment that requires careful planning and preparation to ensure a smooth transition back into society.

When A Loved One Is Released From Prison

This comprehensive guide discusses preparing for a loved one to be released from prison, covering everything from emotional support to practical steps for a successful reintegration.

Old Prison Cell Block

Understanding the Emotions

Acknowledging the emotional journey you and your loved one may be going through is essential.

The period leading up to release and the initial days after release can be overwhelming. You and your loved one may be eager for their release.

It’s a time to look forward to reuniting and rebuilding your lives together.

The prospect of change and reintegration into society after an early release from prison can be frightening for the formerly incarcerated person.

They may have concerns about finding a job, housing, and adapting to a world that may have changed during their absence.

Your loved one might be dealing with guilt and shame, which can be exacerbated by societal stigma. Be prepared to offer emotional support and reassurance.

Sometimes, there can be unrealistic expectations surrounding reentry.

It’s essential to have open and honest communication about what can realistically be achieved immediately and what might take time.

Practical Preparations


  1. Secure Housing: Arrange for a stable and suitable place for your loved one. Depending on the circumstances, this can be with you, with another family member, or in a halfway house. Ensure that the housing situation is secure and comfortable.
  2. Legal Requirements: Be aware of any legal restrictions regarding housing for individuals with a criminal record. Some areas have residency restrictions or specific rules related to former inmates.
  3. Assistance Programs: Explore available housing assistance programs and support for formerly incarcerated individuals. Non-profit organizations and government agencies may provide guidance and resources.


  1. Resume Building: Help your loved one create or update their resume. Focus on skills, qualifications, and experiences that can make them marketable to potential employers.
  2. Job Search: Initiate a job search by identifying industries and positions that match their skills and interests. Encourage them to apply for jobs before release and attend local job fairs or workforce development programs.
  3. Career Counseling: Many reentry programs offer career counseling services to help formerly incarcerated individuals with job placement, resume building, and interview preparation.
  4. Legal Disclosure: Be aware of criminal record disclosure requirements during job applications. Some jurisdictions have “ban the box” laws that restrict employers from inquiring about criminal history in the early stages of the hiring process.

Financial Planning

  1. Bank Accounts: Assist your loved one in opening a bank account if they don’t already have one. This will help with managing finances and receiving wages electronically.
  2. Budgeting: Teach budgeting skills to help them manage their finances effectively. Emphasize the importance of saving money and paying bills on time.
  3. Debt Management: Address any outstanding debts and create a repayment plan. Contact creditors if necessary to discuss payment options.
  1. Parole/Probation Requirements: Understand the specific conditions of your loved one’s parole or probation, if applicable. Ensure they are aware of these conditions and are prepared to meet them.
  2. Legal Documents: Gather critical legal documents, such as identification, Social Security cards, birth certificates, and any legal paperwork related to their conviction and release.
  3. Criminal Record: Investigate the possibility of expunging or sealing their criminal record if eligible. This can significantly improve their chances of finding employment and housing.

Health and Well-Being

  1. Medical and Mental Health: Ensure your loved one has access to necessary medical and mental health services. Identify local healthcare providers and make appointments as needed.
  2. Substance Abuse Support: If there are issues with substance abuse, consider enrolling in rehabilitation programs or support groups to address these concerns.
  3. Wellness and Self-Care: Encourage a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, nutritious meals, and self-care practices to promote overall well-being.

Reentry Programs and Services

Investigate government-run reentry programs and services in your area. These programs often provide employment assistance, housing support, counseling, and more.

Many non-profit organizations specialize in reentry support. These groups can connect your loved one with mentors and resources to ease their transition.

Therapy and counseling can be instrumental in helping your loved one process their experiences and build coping strategies for life outside of prison.

Building a Support Network

Connect your loved one with a network of friends and family who can offer emotional support, guidance, and a sense of belonging.

Encourage them to connect with support groups or individuals who have gone through similar experiences.

Sharing stories and advice with peers can be incredibly reassuring.

Consider consulting with an attorney or legal aid service to address any ongoing legal concerns or issues related to reentry.

Focus on rebuilding and strengthening family relationships. Family therapy can be a valuable resource for addressing past issues and facilitating healing.

Support your loved one in reconnecting with friends and making new, positive social connections. Reintegration may come with challenges and conflicts.

Be patient and empathetic with your loved one and yourself as you navigate these issues.

Safety and Accountability

Establish clear boundaries to maintain a safe and healthy environment for everyone involved. Open communication is essential in this regard.

Encourage your loved one to be accountable for their actions and take responsibility for their reintegration.

Get involved in community activities, church groups, or volunteer organizations to help your loved one build a sense of belonging and social connections.

Regularly communicate with parole or probation officers to stay informed about your loved one’s progress and any concerns.

Emphasize the importance of following the rules and meeting all legal obligations to avoid complications or violations.

Celebrate their milestones and accomplishments as your loved one takes steps toward successful reintegration.

Whether finding a job, completing a counseling program, or reaching a personal goal, acknowledge their efforts and achievements.

Preparing for a loved one’s release from prison is multifaceted and emotionally charged.

You can provide valuable support during this transition by understanding the emotions involved, fostering open communication, and diligently addressing practical aspects such as housing, employment, and legal matters.

The reentry journey may have its challenges, but with the proper preparation and a strong support network, your loved one can find their way to a more positive and fulfilling life beyond incarceration.