That issue was the focus of a conference Friday. The meeting was about the program "Bringing Down the Walls."
The Boone County Offender Transition Network and the Boone County Community Partnership teamed up Friday to help people understand the challenges that surface when prisoners move back into the community. Returning to the community doesn't only affect the prisoners.
"These people who've been to prison and these people under supervision for probation or parole, they live in my neighborhood and they live in your neighborhood," Community Involvement Coordinator Steve Tatlow said.
The meeting wasn't only about offenders and their future. They also discussed the friends, family, and community that support them. Ex-offenders like Dan Hanneken said that support is key.
"I think it's gonna be vital. I think Columbia has a great thing going on here. I think the opportunities are gonna be a lot greater. I think we're gonna see a lot better outcome compared to what we're used to," former prisoner Dan Hanneken said.
There are 18,000 prisoners released in Missouri each year; 350 prisoners are released every week.
With outside help and support from family and friends, Tatlow said offenders have a better chance becoming productive and happy citizens.
"The people that have been part of the problem are working to be part of the solution and so this broad-based-steakholder-group coming together and driving a process like this is the first we've known of in Missouri," Tatlow said.
Discussion groups also focused on employment, housing, transportation, substance abuse, and mental health.
The group also sought outside community organizations to help rehabilitate former inmates.