On Thursday, April 4, from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department is hosting a “Reentry Simulation” at the Lexington Police Department Training Center for NC Probation and Parole staff.

According to Sheriff’s Department officials, the goal of this simulation is to help participants gain an understanding of the major obstacles faced by men and women who are released from prison and who attempt to return home to their communities or to a new environment.

The April simulation, according to the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department, gives professional and law-abiding citizens the ability “to walk in the shoes of people returning home, giving invaluable insight in how to better help those individuals achieve a successful reentry back into society.”

The event, which will last about two hours, will offer participants some experience in what it’s like to be a convict just released from prison trying to get acclimated to post-release life.

The reentry simulation will reduce the first weeks fresh out of prison into 15-minute segments – with each of those segments representing one week.

In those 15-minute “weeks,” re-entrants will return to their housing locations  – which could be home, or could be anything from a halfway house, homeless shelter or even jail – depending on how successful they’ve been in satisfying the conditions of their release and in accomplishing their assigned tasks.

The participants will later engage in a guided discussion with the event facilitators who’ll debrief them with regards to their experiences and help them reflect on their successes and their failures.

As part of the simulation, each participant assumes the identity of an ex-offender and gets a packet of materials, including a “Life Card.” That all-important card will explain the re-entrant’s criminal background, current living situation, current job, and it will also lay out the specific weekly tasks that must be accomplished in order to avoid the risk of being sent back to prison for non-compliance with the requirements of his or her supervised release.

The reentry program is also being used by the Sheriff’s Department as a way to discourage crime by youth: The reentry awareness program will participate in a “Youth Summit on Violence” that’s being sponsored by Burns Hill Neighborhood Association. These efforts are especially meant to target at-risk youth before they get on the wrong side of the law and get caught up in the criminal justice system.