Parole Simulation

Successful reentry back into the community is a difficult and complex process. Each person who is released from incarceration will have different needs, resources, and experiences impacting their success. This simulation gives us a window into the realities and obstacles of coming home after incarceration.


The game is meant to be played by people who have not experienced incarceration and people who have … together!

People learning about the experience of transitioning from prison or jail to community 

  • Participate in a facilitated transition simulation game
  • Take part in a community conversation
  • Create Transition Kits for distribution to people who were recently released from prison or jail
  • Participate in a book club event to read and discuss issue-related works
  • Participate in a discussion of an issue-related video.

Internal staff

Learn how to create an environment that feels welcoming, informative, and supportive, including ideas for reducing policy barriers. Learn how to host conversations that explore public perceptions, help to debunk myths around incarceration, and strengthen community ties. Library staff can:

  • participate in a facilitated transition simulation game
  • review best practices for serving the formerly incarcerated
  • establish partnerships with community service providers


  • Resource Kit binder
  • Red key shaped USB drive
  • Laminated 5 Quick Facts about incarceration and reentry
  • Library best practices for serving formerly incarcerated people
  • Parole Simulation Instructions and script
  • Facilitator Binder
    • Wild Cards
    • Transportation Tickets
    • Simulation Money
  • Participant Profiles Binder
    • 30 participant profile packets
      • Life card
      • Identity profile
      • Name Tags
    • Pawn Shop Items
  • Stations Binder
    • 13 station packets
      • Station Name Sheets
      • Instruction sheets
      • Cards or transportation tickets
  • 36 pack of wet erase markers
  • Clipboard with evaluation form


Breaking the Cycle

(11 minute summary version)

Watch the full version:

This one-hour documentary dives deep into a comparison between the US prison system and the European carceral strategy and the impact each has on reentry and post-incarceration success. (full documentary)

Searching for Justice : Life after Lockup

PBS NewsHour’s next hour-long special Searching for Justice: Life after Lockup focuses on the many challenges individuals face after incarceration from reconnecting with family, to finding work and housing, to staying out of prison or jail. (full documentary)

Welcoming Decarcerated individuals

A short video created by Ready Access for librarians about how to make sure that folks recently released from incarceration feel comfortable and welcome in the public library environment.


One of the easiest ways to make formerly incarcerated people feel welcome at the library is to allow them to see themselves on the shelves by purchasing books that are about incarceration and reentry. This will also help de-stigmatize the topic for your other library customers. Below is a non-exhaustive list of books that have incarceration and reentry as themes for you to consider adding to your library shelves.

The titles in bold are included in the State Library Book Club Resource program with 8+ copies available for 2 month loan.

Adult Books


  • A Colony in a Nation by Christopher Hayes. 2018.
  • After Prison : Navigating Adulthood in the Shadow of the Justice System by David J. Harding. 2020.
  • A Knock at Midnight : a Story of Hope, Justice, and Freedom by Britany K. Barnett. 2020.
  • Anatomy of Injustice : a Murder Case Gone Wrong by Raymond Bonner. 2012.
  • Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Davis. 2003.
  • Becoming Ms. Burton : From Prison to Recovering to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women by Susan Burton. 2017.
  • Beyond Survival : Strategies and Stories from the Transformative Justice Movement by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. 2020.
  • Blood in the Water: the Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy by Heather Ann Thompson. 2017.
  • Burning Down the House : the End of Juvenile Prison by Nell Bernstein.
  • Felon : Poems by Reginald Dwayne Betts. 2019.
  • Free Cyntoia : My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System by Cyntoia Brown. 2020.
  • Halfway Home : Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration by Reuben Jonathan Miller. 2021
  • Homeward : Life in the Year after Prison by Bruce Western. 2018.
  • Just Mercy : a Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. 2014.
  • Life Sentences : Writings from Inside an American Prison by Ralph Bolden. 2019.
  • Marking Time : Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration by Nicole R. Fleetwood. 2020.
  • New Jim Crow : Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michele Alexander. 2019.
  • Out of the Red : My Life of Gangs, Prison, and Redemption by Christian L. Bolden. 2020.
  • Prison by Any Other Name by Maya Schenwar. 2021.
  • Pushout : the Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools. 2015.
  • Solitary : Unbroken by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement : My Story of Transformation and Hope by Albert Woodfox. 2021.
  • The Color of Law : a Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein. 2018.
  • The Prisoner’s Wife : a Memoir by Asha Bandele. 1999.
  • The Sun Does Shine : How I Found Life, Freedom, and Justice by Anthony Ray Hinton. 2018.
  • United States of Grace : a Memoir of Homelessness, Addiction, Incarceration, and Hope by Lenny Duncan. 2021.


  • An American Marriage by Tayrari Jones. 2018.
  • Blacktop Wasteland by S. A. Crosby. 2020.
  • Hole in My Life by Jack Gantoss. 2002.
  • On the Yard by Malcolm Braly. 1967.
  • Riots I Have Known by Ryan Chapman. 2019
  • Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King. 982.
  • Sing, Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward. 2017.
  • The 25th Hour by David Benioff. 2000.
  • The Graybar Hotel by Curtis Dawkins. 2017.
  • The Green Mile by Stephen King. 1996.
  • The Keep by Jennifer Egan. 2006.
  • The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner. 2018.
  • The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. 2019.
  • The Right Mistake by Walter Mosley. 2008.

Young Adult Books

  • Allegedly : a Novel by Tiffany D. Jackson. 2018.
  • Buck : a Memoir by Molefi K. Asante. 2013.
  • Cuz by Danielle S. Allen, 2018.
  • Dear Justyce by Nic Stone. 2020.
  • Fighting Words by Kimberly Brukaer Bradley. 2019.
  • Fist, Stick, Knife, Gun : a Personal History of Violence by Jamar Nicholas. 2010.
  • Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching : a Young Black Man’s Education by Mychal Denzel Smith. 2017.
  • Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers. 2010.
  • Monster by Walter Dean Myers. 2020.
  • Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi. 2020.
  • Rikers High by Paul Volponi. 2002
  • Ruby on the Outside by Nora Raleigh Baskin. 2015.
  • They Called Me 299-359 : Poetry by the Incarcerated Youth of Free Minds by Free Minds Writers. 2020.
  • Yummy : the Last Days of a Southside Shorty by Greg Neri. 2011.

Children’s Books

  • All Kinds of Families by Norma Simon.
  • Almost Like Visiting by Shannon Ellis. 2016.
  • Anna’s Test by Whitney Q. Hollins. 2019.
  • But Why is Daddy in Prison? and But Why is Mommy in Jail? by Erika Ruiz.
  • Day We Visit Daddy in Prison by Cindy Similien. 2020.
  • Deena Misses Her Mom by Jonae Haynesworth. 2017.
  • Far Apart, Close in Heart by Becky Birtha. 20174.
  • From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Jane Marks. 2020.
  • Hooray! Hooray! Dad’s on His Way by LaShelle White-Corley. 2015.
  • Kennedy’s Big Visit by Daphne Brooks. 2015.
  • Knock, Knock : My Dad’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty. 2013.
  • Kofi’s Mom by Richard Dyches. 2016.
  • Mama Loves Me From Awayby Pat Brisson. 2004.
  • Milo Imagines the Worldby Matt de la Peña. 2021.
  • Missing Daddy by Mariame Kaba. 2018.
  • My Daddy’s in Jail by Anthony Curcio. 2015.
  • The Night Dad Went to Jail : What to Expect When Someone You Love Goes to Jail by Melissa Higgins. 2011.
  • Our Moms by Q. Futrell. 2015.
  • The Night Dad Went to Jail : What to Expect When Someone You Love Goes to Jail by Melissa Higgins. 2011.
  • The Same Stuff as Stars by Katherine Paterson. 2002.
  • Sing, Sing, Midnight by Emily Gallagher. 2016.
  • Visiting Day by Jacqueline Woodson. 2002.
  • When Andy’s Father Went to Prison by Martha Whitemore Hickman. 1990.

Other Booklists on this topic


National Reentry Resources

Volunteers of America Correctional Reentry Services
Services include halfway houses and work-release programs, day reporting, diversion and pre-trial services, residential treatment, family supports, and dispute resolution and mediation services.

National Reentry Resource Center
Funded and administered by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC) is the nation’s primary source of information and guidance in reentry.

Jails to Jobs
Jails to Jobs is a nonprofit organization that gives previously incarcerated and soon-to-be-released people the tools they need to find employment including free work clothes and a searchable directory of free and low-cost gang tattoo removal programs across the US.

Career One Stop
Career One Stop is a national job search page for formerly incarcerated people with local and regional search options.

Prison Policy Initiative
Prison policy initiative is a non-partisan nonprofit organization that produces research and advocacy at the center of the national conversation about criminal justice reform and over-criminalization.

The Sentencing Project
The Sentencing Project advocates for effective and humane responses to crime that minimize imprisonment and criminalization of youth and adults by promoting racial, ethnic, economic, and gender justice.

Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop
Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop uses the literary arts, workforce development, and violence prevention to connect incarcerated and formerly incarcerated youths and adults to their voices, their purpose, and the wider community.

Colorado Reentry Resources

Remerg works to connect people to community resources that help them realize their potential after getting out fo jail or prison by fostering connections to hundreds of resources and empowering people with advice and examples on navigating and accessing help.

Wagees Colorado
WAGEES stands for ‘work and gain education and employment skills.’ This is a reentry community grant program mandated by law to provide funding to community-based organizations that support people returning from incarceration. Wagees is a one-stop-shop for all reentry needs and has an extensive list of trusted resources and community partners.

Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition
CCJRC is a coalition of over 10000 individual members and 112 organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform. Chief areas of service include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

Second Chance Center
The Second Chance Center offers care management, mentoring, and vital resources to assist formerly incarcerated people in reestablishing their lives and becoming successful members of the community.

Community Re-Entry Specialists
Community re-entry specialists (CRES) provide integrated case management and support services throughout the state to assist with removing barriers that interfere with successful transition including housing, transportation, clothing, hygiene, backpacks, work tools, employment training, and job placement.

StoryCorps’ mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world. We do this to remind one another of our shared humanity, to strengthen and build the connections between people, to teach the value of listening, and to weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that everyone’s story matters. At the same time, we are creating an invaluable archive for future generations.

Websites about Community Conversations

Aspen Institute
The Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries provides access to an online community working together to address the transformation of public libraries in the digital age. Access the  Action Guide, Version 2.0. Organized into three main modules—a Learning Pathway, Leading Pathway, and Implementing Pathway—to enable library and community professionals to commit to focusing on a specific set of objectives—one pathway at a time.

Harwood Institute
The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation teaches, coaches and inspires people and organizations to solve pressing problems and change how communities work together.

Public Conversations – Essential Partners
Essential Partners has worked for more than 25 years to facilitate conversations and equip people for difficult conversations. Their goal is to foster constructive dialogue where conflicts are driven by differences in identity, beliefs & values. They created the Fostering Dialogue Across Divides: A Nuts and Bolts Guide from the Public Conversations Project book.

Everyday Democracy: Ideas & Tools for Community Change
Everyday Democracy helps people and organizations build capacity to engage communities in creating change. They created the guidebook Organizing Community-Wide Dialogue for Action & Change Everyday Democracy

The World Cafe: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter
Using seven design principles and a simple method, the World Café is a powerful social technology for engaging people in conversations that matter, offering an effective antidote to the fast-paced fragmentation and lack of connection in today’s world. They created the guidebook Café to Go! A Quick Reference Guide for Putting Conversations to Work, World Café

At The Table Colorado
At the Table Colorado (ATTC) brings people from all walks of life together, during the same week, to participate in a series of free community-wide conversations about what makes their neighborhoods/communities/regions great and what can be done to make them even better


National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation’s Resource Guide on Public Engagement
Guide to having dialogue in a public forum. Includes descriptions of various public engagement techniques and resources to get you started.

Fostering Dialogue Across Divides: A Nuts and Bolts Guide From Essential Partners
This guide shares general advice as well as very specific nuts and bolts tips for those who wish to convene, plan, and facilitate constructive conversations on deeply divisive issues.

Libraries Transform Communities: Community Conversation Workbook
This guide was created by the Harwood Institute and the American Library Association. It covers planning, setting expectations, and the responsibilities of an effective conversation leader.

5 Steps to Recording Your STORYCORPS App Interview
Tips to help you record a story or interview. Good to use with the Tell Your Story activity


Community Resource Worksheet – Template

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