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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Envisioning a First Chance Society, by Jeff Grant, JD, M Div & Sarah Diamond, PhD: Supporting a Second Chance Society with First Chance Opportunities



Envisioning a First Chance Society

by Jeff Grant, JD, M Div
& Sarah Diamond, PhD

"Supporting a Second Chance Society 
with First Chance Opportunities"


Envisioning a First Chance Society
 

Last fall, the Directors of Family ReEntry viewed a TED Talk by Dan Pallotta titled, "The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong."  In his talk, Pallotta discussed social innovation and social entrepreneurship, and called upon the nonprofit community to ask ourselves the question, How Do We Change the World?



How Do We Change the World?  It was, and is, a daunting challenge.



If we believe in a vision imagined by Buckminister Fuller as hopeful as a “world that works for everyone,” we must put important questions on the table, like: What is our great vision of criminal justice reform here in Connecticut and across the country? Where are we now? How did we get here? What do we want to achieve? How do we achieve it? What partners do we need in the conversation?



We set out to tackle this head-on.  Together with colleagues and some of the best and most innovative consultants in the country (notably, our friend and my co-author Sarah Diamond, PhD), we envisioned a changed world where we solve the “criminal justice problem” by devoting our attention and resources to healing families and communities. Our goal is to provide first chance opportunities to at-risk people so that their entry into the criminal justice system is not likely or inevitable. Or, if they are already in the system, to provide them with the first chance they never received. 

That is, we intend to change the world by serving as conveners of stakeholders in this important conversation, and disruptors of the broken criminal justice status quo.





A First Chance Society: Supporting a Second Chance Society with First Chance Opportunities



Nobody knows the failures of our criminal justice system better than the individuals and families impacted by incarceration and the community-based organizations which serve them.  Without the voices of people who have been most impacted by the system, and an in-depth understanding and valuing of their humanity and life experiences, our reform efforts are likely to continue to fall short.  Drawing upon our many years of providing critical services in mental health, domestic violence prevention and reentry for thousands of individuals and families each year, Family ReEntry introduces the concept of a First Chance Society to contribute to the dialogue in Connecticut and the country about reimagining our criminal justice system and towards building a shared vision for social change. 



We whole-heartedly agree with and support Governor Malloy’s Second Chance Society goals of seeking long-term solutions to criminal justice reform that “invest in permanent improvement and reformation instead of permanent punishment.” However, we believe that this vision must be taken a step further to address the root causes of mass incarceration, especially with regards to the association between poverty, zip code, race/ethnicity, health disparities and who ends up behind bars. We wish to expand our vision for criminal justice reform by advocating for a First Chance Society, which provides genuine opportunities for those at risk of falling through the cracks and who are being left behind in our post-industrial, globalizing economy.



A First Chance Society is a society in which fewer people end up involved in a punitive criminal justice system in the first place.  We are inspired by Pope Francis’ call to leaders to reach out to those who’ve been left out from the global economy and to, “Give them a voice, listen to their stories, learn from their experiences, understand their needs.” 



What would a society look like in which every child and adult, no matter their family of origin, socio-economic background, or zip code had a chance to succeed and was provided the quality education, skills, resources and opportunities they needed to live a successful and fulfilling life?  Can we transform our criminal justice system to be more aligned with first chances, or must the system itself be dismantled? What will this new eco-system for a First Chance Society look like?



Below are five intentionally thought-provoking statements to spur further community dialogue toward a society that not only embraces Second Chances, but also looks toward providing First Chance opportunities for the people of Connecticut and our nation as a whole. 



Our Prisons have become Warehouses for the Poor



A 2015 report by the Prison Policy Initiative confirms the link between poverty and incarceration [1] in determining   that, “in 2014 dollars, incarcerated people had a median annual income of $19,185 prior to their incarceration, which is 41% less than non-incarcerated people of similar ages.”  In other words, the people who are in prison are largely concentrated at the lowest end of the U.S. income distribution.  As the authors of this study note, policy reforms at the federal, state and local level can go a long way to removing barriers for people returning home from prison to go back to school, become gainfully employed, reunite with their families etc.  “Reversing the decades-old policies that make it more difficult for people with criminal records to succeed may require political courage, but the options are plentiful and often straightforward.”  However, these reforms are insufficient to address the conditions that lead to imprisonment for crime in the first place.  “Our single-minded focus on imprisonment, has blinded us to the needs of entire communities.” As the authors conclude,


Permanently ending the era of mass incarceration will require reversing the decades of neglect that denied our most vulnerable communities access to good jobs, reliable transportation, safe housing, and good schools. Making these long-delayed investments in the basic building blocks of strong and stable communities will ensure that, once we turn the corner on mass incarceration, we never turn back.[2]



Despite a System that is Broken, we must Find
Ways for People to become Whole



Quoting Dianne Jones, Director of Reentry for the City of Hartford, “If the system itself is broken, how can we expect people to become whole again?” Much like critiques of our health care system, our criminal justice system is heavily fragmented and siloed, resulting in poor continuity of care for those whom we serve and for their families.  Individuals returning from prison tend to have complex, multi-dimensional needs. Their families too typically suffer collateral consequences from both the criminal behavior and challenges encountered in navigating and interfacing with the system itself.  When agencies operate in silos to try to serve people returning from prison, the system becomes inefficient and costly, and people are less likely to succeed.  Without their basic needs met and proper supports, many individuals end up falling back into old patterns that landed them in the system in the first place.

At Family Reentry, we understand that our ability to serve our clients and their families is directly proportional to the degree to which the various other services they depend on (e.g. housing, job training, employment, legal aid, etc.) are well-integrated and implemented as part of a comprehensive and timely reentry plan.  Thus, we invite our community partners and stakeholders in the criminal justice system to join us in creating a better, more interdependent eco-system for individuals returning from prison (and their families), with the shared goal of ensuring that they and their families have all that they need to be successful. 



Reentry Begins at the Time of a Person’s Arrest



A simple way to consider this statement is that the fewer people we arrest and detain or incarcerate as a society, the fewer people for whom we will then later need to provide reentry services.  So one way to reduce mass incarceration is to explore whether or not our legal sanctions are proportional to the harm done by the crime and are necessary to keep others safe.   Focusing on the time of arrest also calls to mind efforts to address unconscious bias and other factors contributing to police making false arrests.  With years of emphasis on making sure we provide culturally and linguistically competent services to everyone in our catchment area and in supporting efforts to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in our criminal justice system, Family ReEntry encourages dialogue around what each of us can do to make sure that our justice system is doling out justice equitably.



Another dimension to this statement has to do with the question of when a person’s process of rehabilitation begins?  In a hospital, for example, discharge planning starts on the day of a person's admission. 

For some this process could begin when they first start to feel guilt or regret for their crime.  Feeling the weight of the law at the time of arrest may also spur people to start to rethink their past actions and consider its consequences.  For those involved in patterns of criminal behavior, the process of rehabilitation involves learning new ways of thinking and skills to break these patterns.  Family ReEntry has a strong track record of providing effective preventive services via youth mentoring and domestic violence prevention for individuals in diversion or court-mandated programs.  We invite dialogue regarding creative ways we as a community can work to elevate the consciousness of a person such that they are less likely to break the law, and to cause harm to others.  And we support efforts to explore the role of restorative justice in our criminal justice system or other methods of addressing crime used in other countries that support rehabilitation over punishment.



Hurt People, Hurt People



Many people who commit violent crimes or who have substance abuse disorders have experienced some sort of family violence, addiction and trauma in their own lives, often as children.  The criminal justice system itself adds another layer of trauma, as people who have been incarcerated know all too well.  Then the stigma and barriers to rebuilding their lives, such as accumulated child support payments and court fines, can compound people’s suffering even after they have served their time.  Thus, part of the solution to reducing crime must rest with equipping people with the tools and support they need to heal from traumatic experiences and also making sure our system of justice and society becomes more humane. 



From years of providing mental health services for people with high rates of trauma, Family ReEntry knows that healing the trauma of a person who has been incarcerated and involving his or/her family members in the process is not just something that can be accomplished by prescribing a pill or offering only a brief intervention, though these may help some.  Healing can take many years and most people need ongoing social support in order to recover from cumulative traumas and learn healthy coping mechanisms required to lead healthy and productive lives.  At Family ReEntry we are interested in exploring ways that we as a society can better support the process of healing that must take place in individuals and families, especially in our neighborhoods with the highest rates of crime.  How can we as a society invest in preventing people from being hurt, from healing people who are hurt, and making our systems more trauma-informed?  What diverse healing practices and safe spaces already exist in our communities and what funds can be catalyzed to grow them?



Let us Create a First Chance Society Movement



We invite everyone to join us in building a movement in support of a second chance society, with first chance opportunities.   Please let your voices be heard by sharing with us your thoughts on how best to give everyone in society first chances so as to make our communities safer, healthier, and more peaceful:  firstchancesociety@familyreentry.org.



Gratefully,



Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Executive Director, Family ReEntry, Inc.

Sarah Diamond, PhD, Founder, Diamond Research Consulting, LLC


Envisioning a First Chance Society





[1] Rabuy, B. and Kopf, D. (2015, July 9) “Prisons of Poverty: Uncovering the pre-incarceration incomes of the imprisoned” Retrieved from Rabhttps://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/income.html.
[2] Rabuy, B. and Kopf, D. (2015, July 9) “Prisons of Poverty: Uncovering the pre-incarceration incomes of the imprisoned” Retrieved from Rabhttps://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/income.html.


Saturday, April 1, 2017

A First Chance for Children to Thrive in a Healthy Home: Disrupting the Cycle of Violence, By Rebecca Martorella - Guest Blogger

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A First Chance for Children 
to Thrive in a Healthy Home:

Disrupting the Cycle of Violence

By Rebecca Martorella 
- Guest Blogger  


Envisioning a First Chance Society


               
 At Family ReEntry we are gathering and publishing  experiences and stories of people whose families and communities could be immeasurably changed with access to
first chance opportunities.  Please consider participating 
by submitting a blog post or essay
responding to the question, 
"What would a First Chance Society mean for you?"  
Please send your entry to Rebecca at her email address below. Thank you. - Jeff
_____________

         

We meet the mothers in their homes. Often caring for multiple children with little support, fathers absent or recently removed from the household due to restraining orders placed after a domestic violence incident.  We meet the fathers, often temporarily homeless, missing their families, confused about how their actions got them arrested or removed because they were the same actions they had seen in families their whole lives.



We hear their stories, including traumatic childhoods and a lack of parenting, which left them with no model of healthy relationships to pass on to their own children.  How can a parent know how to parent lovingly when they have been parented with domination and control?  How can a partner know how to communicate lovingly and resolve disagreements when they have only seen screaming and force?



We teach them that screaming, and fighting, and physical altercations are not “just how relationships are.” We teach them that domestic violence is not just physical, that emotional and financial control are forms of domestic abuse as well, invisible but even more harmful. We teach them how the abusive environment affects their children and perpetuates a cycle of unhealthy relationship choices and violence.  We teach them how to identify and communicate their feelings without risking ridicule and rejection, and we teach them how to avoid responding with ridicule and rejection themselves.



We connect them to services they may not have been able to access themselves. The basics: Housing, food, clothing. Then we help them learn to take back power over their own lives. Education, job training, daycare, financial support. We help them see not only that there are other choices, but that those choices are accessible to them.



We help them recognize the trauma in their past that has led to the crises in their present. We help them identify their triggers and learn new coping skills so that they can end the legacy of this trauma in their future, with their children.



Family ReEntry and IPV-FAIR. Helping give 
parents a second chance to give 
their children the best first chance.



Rebecca Martorella, MA, LMFT is the Program Manager for the new IPV-FAIR program at Family ReEntry, in which clinicians and case workers take a team approach to helping families referred by the Department of Children & Families to understand the impact of domestic violence and learn healthy relationship, coping, and co-parenting skills to create a healthier home for their children. Rebecca received her BS in Business Administration from Georgetown University and worked as an advertising executive for over a decade before earning her MA in Marriage & Family Therapy from Fairfield University in 2005. She has worked as a therapist with individuals, couples, and families in private practice and agency settings, including facilitating domestic violence education groups for Family ReEntry for 8+ years. Outside of Family ReEntry, she writes a column on family issues for the Darien Times and volunteers as the Communications Director for the Andrew Shaw Memorial Trust, chartering organization for the Darien Boy Scout program. Rebecca can be reached at rebeccamartorella@familyreentry.org.

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Color of a Collar: Jeffrey Abramowitz's Road to Reentry


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The Color of a Collar: 
Jeffrey Abramowitz's 
Road to Reentry 
Jeffrey, a former Philadelphia lawyer, 
is dedicating his life to helping other 
returning citizens successfully 
re-enter society. He is a member of our 
White-Collar Support Group that meets
 online on Tuesday evenings. 
Jeffrey and I will be leading a workshop 
together on May 5th at the CMCA 
Summit in Philadelphia.
_____________
  
Jeffrey Abramowitz is starting to sleep under his covers again. He brushes his teeth with a decent toothbrush. He lays his head on a decent pillow. The faint clamor of keys clattering against a metal ring, however, sometimes keeps complete comfort at bay.
It’s been three years since he last heard them reverberate through United States Penitentiary, Canaan at night, but every now and then, on the brink of slumber, his subconscious will reproduce the sound like some sort of residual haunting, a reminder of the mistakes he made that landed him in Canaan in the first place.

He doesn’t necessarily need any more reminders of his past life. Abramowitz, a former Center City lawyer, was sentenced to five years in federal prison for embezzlement in 2012. That’s what his stubbly gray beard is from. It’s also why he works at Community Learning Center, where, as director of student services, he helps returning citizens obtain the resources and skills they need to successfully re-enter society.

Abramowitz has made sure he’s reminded of his mistakes every day since his release in September of 2015. Not that he’s had much of a choice.

“I lost everything as a result. I lost everything,” Abramowitz said. His career, his finances, his wife of 24 years — indeed, Abramowitz lost everything and everyone who mattered to him with the exception of his daughter, who’s currently living with him until college starts in the fall.

But putting his life back together didn’t just magically happen. His reentry experience began on the first day of his sentence.

“I needed to figure out why I made those mistakes and what I could do to make sure it never happened again,” he said.
He read over a thousand books. He learned how to operate a forklift. He taught GED classes. As the only Jewish inmate, he became “Switzerland” for disgruntled, factional peers.

He also learned that the color of his collar didn’t much matter. In USP Canaan, everyone wore the same green suit, ate the same shitty food and tried to sleep through the same sound of a prison guard’s keys as they clamored through the prison corridors.
 
“When you’re stripped of everything and go behind bars, you’re all the same,” Abramowitz said. “We were no different. Everybody is motivated by different things, but deep down, we’re all good people who need direction.”
Upon release, Abramowitz found Philadelphia’s halfway houses to discriminate even less.

“Every time you need to leave, you need a pass from a case worker. They’re hard to come by and are often the biggest barrier to individuals trying to get a job,” he said.
Abramowitz said he saw countless peers miss job interviews because they couldn’t get a pass to leave the halfway house in time.

At Community Learning Center, Abramowitz is working to make sure returning citizens have access to the resources they require to meet basic needs, obtain employment, provide for themselves and their families and escape the situational elements that lead to recidivism.
Those needs, Abramowitz said, are the same for all returning citizens.

“Most reentry-friendly employers are not hiring career professionals. I’m working with a few people in the medical profession who cannot go back into their field, can’t practice and are taking jobs at Walmart or Home Depot,” he said.

Returning citizens who served white collar sentences, he said, often struggle “just as much” with reentry as those who served sentences for street crimes — or, perhaps, in different ways.

In her 2016 book “Reexamining Reentry,” author and criminal justice professor Rolanda J. West makes the claim that “media sensationalization” of high-profile cases such as those of Martha Stewart and Bernie Madoff has created a stigma that white-collar offenders “will simply go home and proceed with their lives as usual, with prison a veritable blip on the radar” of their personal and professional lives.

Abramowitz said he left prison with a little over $28 to his name.

There are obvious disparities, though, between returning citizens such as Abramowitz and returning citizens who come from less-privileged backgrounds. If a lawyer had trouble navigating reentry, Abramowitz said, “tell me how someone who is uneducated is able to?”

Abramowitz’s experience with the criminal justice system isn’t news to those who have met him or heard him speak. He’s transparent about his past. It might be the most important educational tool in his toolbox.

“I can’t think of a time in my life that I’ve been happier,” he said. “I’ve found my calling.”

Reprinted from Generocity.org, March 27, 2017
_____________

Friday, March 3, 2017

Press Release: Blue Oyster Cult and Alice Cooper Band Members to Play Benefit Concert for Family ReEntry on April 13th at FTC Warehouse, Fairfield




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Press Release: Blue Oyster Cult and 
Alice Cooper Band Members to Play 
Benefit Concert for Family ReEntry 
on April 13th at FTC Warehouse, Fairfield 





For Immediate Release:
Media Contact: Greg Walsh
Walsh Public Relations
305 Knowlton Street
Bridgeport, CT 06608
(203) 292-6280
________________

Bridgeport, CT - (March 3, 2017) - Quite a Coup!  Family ReEntry, a Bridgeport-based nonprofit that assists individuals and families impacted by the criminal justice system, today announced that its Spring Fundraising event will be a benefit concert starring Blue Coupe, a band formed by members of Blue Oyster Cult and the Alice Cooper band.

Featuring Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Dennis Dunaway, co-founder of the Alice Cooper band, and Joe & Albert Bouchard from Blue Oyster Cult, Blue Coupe will perform at The Warehouse at Fairfield Theater Company (FTC WAREHOUSE), on Thursday April 13th. The show starts at 6:30 and features a Special Performance Opening Act of teens and tweens from Fairfield's own School of Rock.

Tickets are now on sale through the FTC Box Office for the show. Blue Coupe will perform tracks from their upcoming new album as well as hits from Blue Oyster Cult and the Alice Cooper Band (Don't Fear the Reaper, Burning for You, Godzilla, School's Out, Billion Dollar Babies, No More Mr. Nice Guy).

Jeff Grant, Executive Director of Family ReEntry, stated, "We are thrilled and grateful that Blue Coupe will headline our Spring fundraising event. And we are overjoyed that the young musicians from the School of Rock will have the chance to open an official rock concert featuring legendary artists."


With the funds from this event, Family ReEntry will be able to expand its services and continue in its work advocating for justice reform and providing programs that restore dignity and renew families with criminal justice issues.


Grant is well aware of the difficulties that formerly incarcerated individuals can face; he served almost 14 months in Federal prison for a white-collar crime he committed in 2001 when he was a lawyer. Grant said. “As the first person in the country formerly incarcerated for a white-collar crime to be appointed as Executive Director of a major criminal justice nonprofit, I try to be a role model that there is hope after prison."


According to Fred Hodges, Family ReEntry’s Director of Community Affairs, “I owe Family ReEntry my fresh start after prison; I am deeply grateful for the faith and confidence they have in me.” “I pay it forward every day by helping others going through criminal justice difficulties.”


Purchase Tickets here!

Proceeds from the concert benefit, 


Family ReEntry, a
501c3 nonprofit founded in 1984 as a reentry support group for men at the Isaiah House in Bridgeport. It has since grown to include policy advocacy, and intervention, prevention, in-prison, reentry, fatherhood and youth & family programs. Over the past 33 years, effective advocacy efforts and community-based programs developed by Family ReEntry, have significantly reduced the likelihood that clients will re-offend, be re-arrested, or be re-incarcerated. Its programs provide a spectrum of services designed to disrupt the intergenerational cycle of incarceration. Family ReEntry addresses the specific needs of each client and their families through individualized case management and support services. It works to create a positive social network for each client, helping make their transition from prison back into the community a successful, self-sufficient one, while strengthening their families and the community. Family ReEntry operates its programs in strategic locations that encompass eight municipal regions and judicial geographic areas, two parole districts and five prisons. Approximately, sixty-percent of those served by Family ReEntry are from greater Bridgeport – Connecticut’s largest city.  The organization has offices in Bridgeport, Norwalk and New Haven, CT.  Programs are also held in Stamford, Waterbury, Derby, New London and Norwich, CT. More information is available at www.familyreentry.org and on its social media sites including, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube.

About Blue Coupe: Blue Coupe's multi-talented

entertainers include Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Dennis Dunaway bassist of the legendary Alice Cooper group, alongside multi-instrumentalist, Joe Bouchard who founded Blue Oyster Cult with his brother Albert Bouchard master of the drums. These revolutionary originals were the heartbeat of several of the best-known songs in the history of rock. And note for note, their full-throttle expertise hits you over the head and grabs you by the heart in Blue Coupe. The band has found continuing glory with their highly-acclaimed album, Tornado on The Tracks, which has multiple Grammy considerations in 2011 and 2012, including "Angel's Well" featuring Robby Krieger legendary guitarist for The Doors. And Blue Coupe continues to tour North America and Europe with such illustrious shows as the Halloween Parade in New York City where they were seen by more than a million people. Blue Coupe's second album, Million Miles More, features Alice Cooper, Tish and Snooky from Manic Panic, Ross the Boss from Manowar and the Dictators, Buck Dharma from Blue Oyster Cult and Goldy McJohn from Steppenwolf as special guest stars. The album was mixed by Jack Douglas (Aerosmith, John Lennon, Cheap Trick, Alice Cooper, BOC) and Warren Huart (Aerosmith, The Fray, James Blunt). The new single "Hallow's Grave" with vocals by Alice Cooper has been submitted for Grammy consideration.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Family ReEntry's Testimony on Criminal Justice Before the Connecticut State Legislature Appropriations Committee


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Family ReEntry's Testimony on 
Criminal Justice Before the 
Connecticut State Legislature 
Appropriations Committee 
 


Public Hearing:
Weds., Feb. 22, 2017, 6:30 pm
_____________




H.B. No. 7027 AN ACT CONCERNING THE STATE BUDGET FOR THE BIENNIUM ENDING JUNE THIRTIETH 2019, AND MAKING APPROPRIATIONS THEREFOR.



Good afternoon, Senator Formica, Senator Osten, Representative Walker, and members of the Appropriations Committee.   

My name is Jeff Grant and I am Executive Director of Family ReEntry.  Founded in 1984 in Bridgeport, Family ReEntry’s mission is to develop, implement, and share innovative and cost-effective solutions to the unprecedented numbers of people involved in the criminal justice system.  We contract with the Connecticut Department of Correction and the Court Support Services Division, as well as other state agencies, to provide services inside and outside of prison, in support of DOC’s mission to “protect the public” and “provide offenders with opportunities for successful community reintegration.”  

Our high-impact services for youth and families tackle the root causes of violent crime through evidence-based social, cognitive and behavioral interventions that restore healthy family functioning and assist returning citizens in becoming positive contributing members of society. For example, participants in our court-referred domestic/family violence programs (n=1539) for 2014-2015 had a re-arrest rate of 8%, which is 60% lower than the program benchmark for re-arrest rates set by the state (20%). 


I would like to take this opportunity to applaud the bold steps that this administration has taken to reduce the numbers of people in prison through criminal justice reform and Second Chance Society legislation. Having served thirteen and a half months in a federal prison myself for a white-collar crime I committed in 2001, I can personally attest to the humanitarian value of second chances. Without the support from my wife, the faith community and opportunities to volunteer with Family ReEntry when I came out of prison, it is unlikely that I would be standing before you today as a tax-paying citizen, non-profit leader and advocate for returning citizens.  


All taxpayers in our state will benefit if Connecticut’s prison population levels can be sustained or further decreased, so long as public safety is not jeopardized.  With these goals in mind, Family ReEntry opposes the proposed one-million dollar cut to DOC’s community support services, and requests that the amount remain at the same level as last year ($34,803,726). 


While we understand the pressing need for a balanced state budget, we believe that cuts to community-based services are not in the best interest of public safety or the longer-term fiscal health of our state.  



With more individuals returning from prison and jail to our communities, it is all the more urgent that we maintain our investment in community services to ensure that recidivism rates do not increase.  Research shows that when individuals returning from prison do not have the social supports and resources they need to rebuild their lives, they are much more likely to commit another crime and return to prison within one to three years of release.[i] The first six months in reentry are a critical time for intervention and for linking individuals without the necessary supports to much needed behavioral health, housing, legal aid and other rehabilitative services.[ii]  Reentry service providers are on the front-lines in preventing other critical problems our state faces as well, including overdose deaths[iii] and children from witnessing domestic violence.

Evidence-based community programs yield significant returns on investment by reducing recidivism.  As stated in a PEW Center on the States report[iv]


Policy makers must confront the reality that, for the foreseeable future, roughly seven out of every ten offenders will continue to serve all or part of their sentences in the community. Ensuring public safety and balancing a budget, then, require states to strengthen badly neglected community corrections systems, so they can become credible options for more of the lowest risk offenders who otherwise would be in prison. 


The non-partisan Connecticut Regional Institute for the 21rst Century (CT21) report[v] concerning the fiscal future of our state---recommends that, “The current Department of Correction reentry programs both internal and community based need to be funded and sustained” and they also warn that “Connecticut must resist temptation to reduce funding for these programs.”  A 2006 national opinion survey likewise indicates that the general public also favors rehabilitative services for offenders, as opposed to a punishment-only approach by an almost 8 to 1 margin[vi].


As the state continues to garner cost savings from criminal justice reform measures, it would behoove the state legislature to maintain the state’s investment in reentry services as part of justice reinvestment. Everyone will be the beneficiary from front-line investments that will help restore healthy families, increase public safety, rebuild our communities and continue to reduce our prison population. 



Thank you for your attention to this important issue.  Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.



Respectfully submitted,



Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Executive Director

Family ReEntry, Inc.

75 Washington Avenue

Bridgeport, Connecticut 06604

FamilyReEntry.org

(o) 203-290-0855

(c) 203-957-0162

jeffgrant@familyreentry.org


[i] Kempker, G., Gibel, S., Giguere, R. A (2010) Framework for Offender Reentry. Silver Spring, Maryland. Center for Effective Public Policy.

[ii] Source: Draine, J., & Herman, D. B. (2007). Critical time intervention for reentry from prison for persons with mental illness. Psychiatric Services58(12), 1577-1581.

[iii] Yale’s 2016 plan for Connecticut Opioid Response (CORE) states that 44 percent of fatal overdoses in Connecticut occurred among individuals who had a history of having been detained by the DOC.  For individuals with an opioid disorder released from DOC, 60% of overdose deaths occurred within six months of their release. Retrieved from
http://www.plan4children.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/COREInitiativeForPublicComment.pdf

[iv] Source: One in 31: The Long Reach of American Corrections; PEW Center on the States; March 2009; page 22

[v] Source: BlumShapiro (2010). Connecticut Regional Institute for the 21st Century: Assessment of Connecticut’s Correction, Pardon and Parole (Report No. 2). Retrieved from http://www.ct21.org/attachments/article/116/prisonreportppt.pdf: page 37 [emphasis added].


[vi] Krisberg, B. & Marchionna, S. (2006). Attitudes of U.S. Voters Toward Prisoner Rehabilitation and Reentry Policies. Oakland, CA: National Council on Crime and Delinquency.