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What’s all this about reentry?
By Bob Anez, Communications Director, Montana Department of Corrections
Published: 06/25/2012

Mt doc reentry2012mar19 Nine months ago, the Montana Department of Corrections launched its reentry initiative. Since then, “reentry” has become one of the most frequently used words in the agency.

Reentry, reentry, reentry.

Reentry has become the dominant focus of the department.

But that doesn’t mean it’s new. Reentry has been around for decades. The word refers to more than the process of inmates leaving prison and reentering communities. It encompasses a broad array of services and programs that the corrections system provides offenders to help their transition go smoothly and be successful.

The initiative is spearheaded by a 28-member task force is designed to enhance existing reentry services and improve coordination among corrections professionals.

It involves everybody across the correctional spectrum: prison war-dens, case managers, unit managers, correctional officers, information technology staffers, the Parole Board, probation and parole officers, and the staffs of prerelease centers and community treatment programs.

But it goes beyond the corrections world. Job Service offices able to help offenders find jobs, landlords willing to provide housing to offenders, law enforcement, family support groups, educators offering job-skills training, and public assistance pro-grams have roles to play.

Every year in Montana, about 1,200 inmates are released from prison. What happens to them then is what reentry is all about.

The bottom-line for reentry is reducing the number of offenders failing in the community and returning to prison. Reducing this recidivism will mean Montana taxpayers will have to spend less on incarcerating offenders than they otherwise would.

So the department looked at statistics and determined inmate populations most at risk to return to prison. Those leaving prison when less than 25 years old or while living in higher-custody housing units have higher recidivism rates than other inmates. Those are the target populations.

The department wants the reentry initiative to cut the recidivism rate among those offenders from almost 43 percent to about 32 percent during the next three years. That means 49 fewer inmates ending up back in prison.

While that may not seem like a large number, the potential savings add up quickly given the cost of an average stay in prison.

How will this be accomplished?

The effort begins when an offender enters prison and continues through incarceration and supervision in community corrections programs. The idea is simple: Give offenders the tools to succeed.

The task force is focused on four initial priorities:
  • Develop a uniform means of assessing the needs of offenders and their risk to re-offend.
  • Encourage employers to hire of-fenders.
  • Promote creation of more housing opportunities for offenders.
  • Improve relationships between of-fenders and their families.

Beyond that, corrections officials will concentrate more effort on the targeted populations, recognizing those offenders need more attention to increase their chances for success and decrease their likelihood for failure.

The Montana Reentry Initiative is not a fad and will not fade over time. Results won’t occur overnight. The benefits will take time, but corrections officials are confident and committed to the effort.

So expect to hear the word “reentry” more. The changes it brings are here to stay. For more information about reentry, visit the DOC’s reentry website at http://www.cor.mt.gov/reentry/

Reprinted with permission: Montana DOC - Correctional Signpost 2012 No. 2



Other Reentry articles by Anez



Comments:

  1. X on 07/27/2012:

    As a former inmate,I was routed to CCC,a private halfway house,run by this private Corrections Corporation,located in Butte. No jobs,in Butte,with the mines shut down,evverbudddy in the world knows that,except this corrections corporation,and the federal government.No transition services,no counseling,nothing,and you had to pay,for your own medical care.You are expected to go out everyday,and look for work,no matter what,the weather.n a ghost Town.In the Fed system,everybody works,even if it's just in the kitchen. But,none of those jobs,extrapolate into Employment,except I learned how to commit postal fraud,theft,and cook meth,make pruneo,but no appreciable job skills,unless,you're white.But,thats not meant to be disparaging,it's just,the dirty-neck bikers,teach their younger members how to work on Motorcycles,but you have to be white,to join,these biker gangs.But,they learn a good skill,for the outside future.RE-ENTRY?..forget it,unless,it means 180 degree turn,back into prison.I survived Halfway House,and came home to my Homeland Reservation. There I was elgible,for 228.00,a month.and 91.00 in food stamps.I was expected to pay my rent,utilities and job-hunting expense,plus a fee to the private prison,for my "keep",and payment towards a fine.All the time the pressure was on,to violate my parole,and go back in,after expenses,I had 6 cents left, I consider my self,strong of heart,and spirit.But,when those break,there's nothing.end of cry-me-a-river,sob story.but jus'tryin'to reiterate,what all ther posters,are sayin,about what your up against,trying to "RE-ENTER!,if it wasn't for my mom,I think I would have.just laid down in the snow,on the streets of those border towns,mentally,emotionally physically exhausted,hungry and cold looking for work.that,s not for convicted felons,they need not apply..RE-ENTRY?..You gotta be kidding me !!

  2. jamestown0509 on 06/28/2012:

    Good luck with that program. When the recidivism rate in our locality is almost 90 percent how do you expect to stem the tide of inmates coming back to jails over and over again? What employer do you know is going to hire an ex-con? How can you help a former inmate relate to his/her family when they may not even have a relationship with their family after being incarcerated? What former inmate has the coping skills needed to survive outside with no job, no money and no support from the community? If an ex con tells a prospective or writes on an application that he or she was incarcerated what chance do they get for housing?

  3. BrokenSystem on 06/27/2012:

    Re-entry means food stamps, public assistance, the Salvation Army Homeless Shelter and "hope to see again you soon" here in Wisconsin. My experience (a daughter in prison) is nothing much more than that. Even in minimum security prisons only about 30% are ever even allowed to be out working, mess up even once and that chance will never resurface again. Most of the correction centers offer nothing in the way of classes or job training either. Some inmates might get an inside prison job earning .25 cents an hour which is hardly a nest egg to start over with unless you're doing about seventy-five years. Re-entry? It's a joke! They do more to try to keep you down and in the system than anything remotely productive.


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