By Kathy Ficcadenti

By Kathy Ficcadenti

By recognizing and helping prisoners overcome the trauma in their lives, we’re lowering their inclination to re-offend.

Click here to read the entire June 2019 newsletter

The day a prisoner is released is often marked by unbound joy, optimism, and a belief life’s struggles are behind them. Freedom chases away any dark clouds and for a moment all things seem possible. However, for most ex-offenders, new storms are immediately brewing on the horizon.

According to the Bureau of Statistics, at least 95% of all state prisoners will be released from prison and asked to re-integrate into society. While these ex-offenders believe they have been rehabilitated and possess a deep desire to rebuild their lives, without ongoing assistance, support, and guidance, most will struggle.

This brings us to the subject of recidivism, or the tendency of a convicted criminal to re-offend. Recidivism rates vary depending on who you ask and how long you follow the offender (most studies measure 3-5 years). However, a recent study done by the Department of Justice found that after nine years the recidivism rate was an astounding 83%! This means five out of six ex-offenders were rearrested within nine years after their release. This alarming rate indicates we need to take a closer look at what’s happening to our citizens returning from prison, and what prompts them to re-offend.

In order to gain insight, it’s necessary to dive deep into the lives of ex-offenders prior to and during their incarceration. What you typically find is some, if not all, have the following unresolved challenges:

  • Childhood Trauma
  • Substance Abuse
  • Generational criminality
  • Poverty

Add these unresolved challenges to a criminal record and you have the perfect storm to re-offend.

That’s where Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph comes into the picture. More than 77% of persons that come to Catholic Charites’ Employment Services are ex-offenders, most of whom come straight from prison. With our case management and Employment Services classes, we mitigate the risk of re-offending by providing the skills and accountability necessary to maintain employment and housing.

To be successful, we approach our clients with a non-judgmental, compassionate perspective. At the same time, we understand boundaries and accountability are crucial for the success of ex-offenders in danger of recidivating. Our staff is trained to:

  1. Lift these individuals up, regardless of their background
  2. Recognize the symptoms of trauma
  3. Identify warning signs of recidivism, drug abuse, and suicide ideation
  4. Maneuver our clients through the services available to them
  5. Aid them in attaining employment, enabling financial stability

In the upcoming issues, we’ll delve deeper into the unresolved challenges as a result of trauma. You’ll also hear about Timothy, an ex-offender who served over 30 years in prison and is currently struggling to find the stability and peace that most of us take for granted.

Please come along on this quest for insight into the lives of ex-offenders. Re-entry is really about forgiveness, an extension of Jesus’ call to visit the imprisoned.

If you or someone you know is an ex-offender looking for help, contact Kathy Ficcadenti at (816) 659-8269 or


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