Plan step in accessing federal funding to assist transition from jail
StoryWith an eye on ensuring that offenders do not return into the criminal justice system, the Metropolitan King County Council adopted at its May 9 meeting a motion accepting the County’s Offender Reentry Plan. The adoption of the plan will allow the County to access millions of Federal funds as part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Second Chance Act.
“I was pleased to put together a motion calling for the plan in July, and I am more pleased that we have adopted that plan,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn, prime sponsor of the motion. “During these times of seriously declining resources, we need to do everything we can to position ourselves to compete for resources.”
“This plan puts King County in the position to seek federal funding for programs and services aimed at reducing recidivism,” said Councilmember Bob Ferguson, Chair of the Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee. “Setting people up for success after being released from jail improves public safety and improves outcomes for those individuals and their families.”
A 2011 report from the U.S. Department of Justice shows that over two-thirds of jail inmate are repeat offenders, having been admitted and released from jail at least once before. Data indicates that for individuals to successfully reintegrate into the community from jail and not return to jail, they need supportive services such as: stable housing, employment, mental health, and/or chemical dependency services.
The 2008 federal Second Chance Act was designed to improve outcomes for people returning to communities from prisons and jails. The legislation authorizes federal grants to government agencies and nonprofit organizations to provide employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, housing, family programming, mentoring, victims support, and other services that can help reduce recidivism.
Congress recently authorized $83 million for Second Chance Act programs. The funds are granted to local and state governments for the implementation of reentry programs for released prison and jail inmates. To be eligible for these funds, local governments must have in place a strategic plan for reentry developed through collaboration with key stakeholders.
The Offender Reentry Plan adopted by the Council establishes a framework to guide comprehensive and coordinated policies and services for individuals transitioning from jail to community. It articulates the outcomes of reducing recidivism, improving public safety, and assisting individuals with successfully integrating into their communities.
The focus of the plan is the coordination of human services and criminal justice activities, bringing them together to reduce recidivism. The plan incorporates the policies and recommendations of the Juvenile and Adult Justice Operational Master Plans, the Framework Policies for Human Services, the Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness, the Veterans and Human Services Levy, and the Mental Illness and Drug Dependency Plan.