Reentry programs and courts are designed to help to return citizens effectively “reenter” society after being incarcerated.
The aim is to reduce recidivism, improve public safety, and save money (as fewer people being incarcerated means that the government will be able to spend less money on jails and prisons).
Most reentry activities are aimed at removing or lowering barriers to effective reintegration so that motivated individuals who have served their sentence and paid their debt to society can compete for jobs, obtain stable housing, support their families, and contribute to their communities.
Federal Interagency Reentry Council (FIRC)
The FIRC, which was established by the Attorney General in January 2011, is comprised of 20 federal agencies that represent a significant executive branch commitment to coordinating reentry efforts and formulating successful reentry policy.
It is predicated on the assumption that several government agencies are interested in prisoner reentry.
Here are a few ways that the FIRC aims to help people reenter society, and what it does for the public in general.
Reentry helps to increase public safety. Almost two million adults are imprisoned in state and local jails.
Within three years, two out of every three inmates released from state prisons are caught for a new crime, and roughly half are incarcerated.
Reducing recidivism is critical for public safety and cheaper prison costs in the long run.
Education is a critical resource for release preparation and is an evidence-based method for minimizing recidivism among adults and juveniles.
Participation in educational programming was associated with a 16 percent decrease in recidivism in one research. Education is also important for expanding work opportunities.
There is frequently a lack of continuity in therapy from the jail to the community. Reentry programs can help ensure that the Affordable Care Act and other reforms improve post-incarceration access to appropriate physical and behavioral health interventions considerably.
Substance abuse can be a major impediment to successful reintegration as well as a serious health hazard. Addressing the root causes of substance abuse is the first step toward improving public safety.
Stable housing and sufficient social assistance are required to prevent homelessness and reduce recidivism.
The purpose is to remove barriers to public and subsidized housing, as well as to promote effective techniques that improve results for those who regularly use correctional and homeless services.
When people who have been incarcerated return to their communities, they can expect a 40% fall in their future salaries.
Reentry efforts strive to lower work obstacles so that people who have previously been convicted of a crime can compete for jobs once they have been held accountable and paid their dues.
FIRC on a local level
While the support above can be found on a national level, the government also provides support for reentry on a local level.
While the support varies from state to state broadly similar programs can be found across the country.
Here are some quick examples of the services that the state of Washington provides for people who are reentering society. Check out the reentry services in your state to see if the local government offers any similar programs.
The US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington has a designated violence prevention and reentry coordinator who regularly attends Community Partnership for Transition Services meetings in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties.
The group meets once a month to share information, review current practices, and plan future reintegration efforts.
The sessions are attended by representatives from the state and county, as well as law enforcement agencies, probation offices, and reentry service providers.
DREAM Court (drug support)
The Drug Reentry Alternative Model (DREAM) is a drug court that offers intensive presentence monitoring and regular judicial intervention as a pre-trial diversion program. DREAM was established in August 2012 as an alternative to the more traditional prosecution, conviction, and incarceration process.
The program lasts between 12 and 24 months for defendants who match the eligibility criteria and are accepted into DREAM court. The underlying charges are dismissed if the case is effectively completed.
This project was initiated in December 2016 to address outstanding bench warrants from multiple jurisdictions. These warrants hinder inmates from participating in certain in-custody drug treatment programs, from being discharged to halfway houses, and from finding housing or working in the federal system.
As a result, after conferring with local prosecutors, defense counsel, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), and US Probation, a method was established to settle outstanding warrants before a person in federal prison is ready to be released back into the community.
The goal is to work with local prosecutors to find solutions that meet their needs while also allowing the defendant to take advantage of BOP’s re-entry services.
Myths about reentry
There are many myths surrounding reentry, as people who have served time may not completely understand the many services available to them and how these can be used to help and support them during the transition from jail to the outside world.
Many people may think that due to their past actions that they are a “lost cause” and will not have access to housing or job support.
Here are the most common myths that former inmates think will happen when they leave jail, and what support there is for them.
Myth – Those convinced of a crime cannot access public housing
Fact – Ex-offenders are given a lot of discretion when it comes to admissions and occupancy restrictions by public housing authorities. Exclusion of ex-offenders from public housing and Section 8 programs is an option for PHAs, but it is not HUD policy. In many circumstances, formerly incarcerated people should not be denied admittance.
Myth – People with criminal convictions are barred from employment
Fact – Any arrest or conviction will not bar you from employment
Myth – potential employers will receive no federal tax advantages from hiring a former convictFact – Employers who hire ex-felons can benefit from the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) program, which allows them to save money on their federal income taxes. An ex-felon is defined as someone who has been convicted of a felony under any federal or state statute and has been hired during the last two years under the WOTC program.