April is Second Chance Month in the United States, a time for communities to rally together to support people who have been incarcerated and have rejoined society. Although the article below focuses on the U.S. criminal justice system, for change to be sustained, a network of supporters and wellness tools are needed for individuals reentering society—no matter where they live in the world.

WRAP seminars are offered by Certified WRAP Facilitators in many prisons. The value and benefits of WRAP for individuals as they prepare to reenter the community are immense. WRAP provides tools to have a positive reentry experience by planning for the stressors and challenges that may occur during this period.

Below is the story of one man who discovered WRAP while in prison and formed a nonprofit to empower returning citizens to stop the cycle of crime by becoming responsible community members.

You Can’t Rehabilitate Someone Who Was Never Habilitated!

By Kurt Danysh, Executive Director of Tomorrow’s Neighbors, Certified WRAP Facilitator

From the moment I found myself incarcerated, I kept hearing the term “rehabilitation.” I knew what the word was supposed to mean, but it never seemed appropriate. So I looked it up.

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, “rehabilitation” means “the process of restoring someone (such as a criminal) to a useful and constructive place in society.”

The part that bothers me is “restoring.” It assumes that those being rehabilitated were somehow whole prior to incarceration. And my experience, having served 24 years in prison, says otherwise.

Many individuals who find themselves in jail or prison, myself included, were never whole to begin with. We lack(ed) the basic life skills, emotional intelligence, moral character, and education required to be productive members of society.

Therefore, any program that assumes we merely require restoration to build that foundation, rather than basic instruction, is doomed to fail. America’s criminal justice recidivism rate (82% are arrested at least once during the 10 years following release) demonstrates this fact.

What changed for me was my introduction to WRAP. Unlike other programs that attempt to restore, WRAP builds from the ground up. It assumes nothing. It meets the individual where they are. It allows the individual to identify their own needs, to determine what wellness looks like for them, and then to develop a plan to achieve wellness.

It’s been more than a decade since I was introduced to WRAP as an inmate. WRAP benefited me inside prison and continues to benefit me outside, in society.

To say that WRAP changed my life is an understatement. It opened a door through which I was able to walk confidently into my God-given future.  

In 2020, I was released from prison after nearly a quarter of a century behind bars. I now operate a nonprofit reentry organization called Tomorrow’s Neighbors, which uses WRAP and WRAP for Reentry to support the individuals we serve. And it has been just as impactful to them as it has been to me. 

Reentry wellness has very specific challenges, but it also requires an individualized plan. By requiring our reentrants to sit down and identify their stressors and early warning signs, and then develop a crisis plan, I find that it alleviates a lot of stress for them. They can catch early warning signs while they are still manageable, and then take decisive action to return to a state of wellness.  

WRAP is as empowering as reentry is debilitating. By including a support team in the process, WRAP helps alleviate the loneliness of reentry.  

Many in reentry find it extremely difficult to make even small decisions, because incarceration, by design, removes all decision-making capabilities. You sleep when you are told to, eat when chow is served, work where you are assigned, and leave your cell only when permissible. Therefore, when they are released, many people find themselves overwhelmed by the prospect of having to make decisions for themselves.  

WRAP for Reentry provides a foundation for wellness upon which the reentrant can stand firmly and make more confident decisions from a position of wellness instead of anxiety, fear, and stress. 

Based on my experience as an incarcerated neighbor, and as the executive director of Tomorrow’s Neighbors, I can attest that WRAP contributes greatly to the habilitation of those who find themselves incarcerated, and in reentry.