A Case Manager’s Perspective

Written by Elizabeth Michael, OAR Reentry Services Associate

This month I continued to do the privileged work of supporting our Intensive Reentry Program (IRP) clients, work that grows all the more exciting as some are beginning to come home.  Those windowless meeting rooms in our local jails and prisons have grown considerably brighter as clients and case managers delight in relationships of now-deep trust and look forward together to the day of homecoming.  Plans for reentry have become suddenly specific and imminent: the family gathering to meet the client upon release, the meals and movies anticipated after long stretches of institutional life, resumes finalized and ready for the job search, the 12-step groups mapped out for attendance and individual sessions with staff folded into daily schedules.

Indeed our work with clients has only further illuminated the gifts that are being restored to our society along with our returning citizens.  Mr. G. speaks about the turtle eggs he once rescued for a nature preserve, exuding a deep tenderness for vulnerable creatures.  Mr. B. nurtures small ones, too; he is already plotting a list of museums to visit with his grandchildren as he commits to a new way of living in his family.  Mr. M. is dreaming up a screenplay that has more creativity and complexity than most on the big screen, and Mr. A. is speaking fondly of finishing his training in ironworking in order to get back to “Building America” again.  To be with these clients—to offer them the best guidance, support, and counsel we can and then to find our place together in the wider community for the ongoing work of healing and empowerment—well, something about that process seems tremendously right to me.

At the OAR timeline event last month, staff and board members recalled the longevity of the OAR mission statement: OAR, a community-based restorative justice organization, blends compassion and accountability to assist offenders in leading productive and responsible lives, to the benefit of all.  I’m grateful to work for an organization that is grounded in community, committed to restorative justice, and clear-minded that this work is for the good of all who call Arlington home.