ATHENS, W.Va. (AP) — A university in southern West Virginia is conducting a simulation event to give people a glimpse of what it’s like to be released from a correctional facility.
The event, sponsored by Concord University’s sociology department and the West Virginia Reentry Councils, is coinciding with a backpack drive to raise items to aid people leaving jail or prison who are at risk for homelessness.
According to a news release, Criminology Instructor Lori Pace says she and her students are working fill 21 waterproof duffel bags with toiletries and other items including notebooks, pens, blankets, towels and wash cloths. The bags will be donated to Mercer County Probation and Parole West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation Office and Southern Regional Jail.
“Not only does this service benefit the agencies and individuals receiving the filled bags, but it increases the students’ awareness of challenges to reentry post felony and allows them to cultivate empathy for others,” she said in a statement.
The drive began on March 14 and will continue until April 29.
The reentry simulation event will take place at Concord University on Tuesday in the Jean & Jerry L. Beasley Student Center. Participants will be given bios and tasks to complete as part of an interactive experience that will offer insight into the barriers formerly incarcerated people face with jobs, family, housing and supervision restrictions.