GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Trillium Health Resources hosted a reentry simulation at the Greenville Convention Center on Tuesday, showing what life looks like for people formerly incarcerated.

Each participant got a pouch with papers detailing the profile of a person released from incarceration. Participants had to find housing, apply for jobs and meet with probation. One of the first tasks involved was getting an ID. But with more than 200 people at the event, the line for the ID card station got long quickly.

“It is excruciatingly long,” participant Pregina Bailey said. “I have to get my ID, I have to get food every week, I have to see my probation officer, I’m going through the simulation of trying to get these things done every day.”

The simulation shows the struggles formerly incarcerated people encounter.

“Honestly, I did one in Carteret County, I was a participant, and I was like stealing stuff because I didn’t have a way to do everything I needed to do,” Trillium Training Facilitation Manager Ashley Hicks said. “I was stealing transportation tickets. I was stealing ID cards. I was in jail because it was easier to sit in jail than to run from the cops.”

Participants who did not meet requirements or tried to argue with the stations were sent to jail, where they sat an entire round, losing precious time to get the resources they needed to live.

While the simulation was pretend, the issue is real.

“This is a simulation, it’s all fun and games, but in all actuality, this is exactly what they have to go through, so it is quite frustrating from time to time, it really is,” Bailey said.

As for lessons learned? Empathy for others.

“Don’t judge people about what they’ve been through and have some empathy, right? Because it’s not as easy as you did the crime, you do the time and then you get out and you’re fine. It takes more than that. It takes the community as a whole,” Hicks said.

Those with Trillium said they plan to host the event again in the future, likely sometime in 2024.