What is Reentry?
More people are leaving prisons across the country to return to their families and communities than at any other time in our history. Nationally, over 600,000 are released from state and federal prisons and 12-million cycle through county jails a year. In Palm Beach County we have an average of 100 returning from state prisons each month. From a number of perspectives, the issue of how people fare after they exit the prison gates has received renewed attention. Not only are more prisoners returning home than ever before, but they are also returning less prepared for life on the outside. Many will experience difficulty managing the most basic ingredients of successful reintegration—reconnecting with jobs, housing and their families, and accessing needed substance abuse and health care treatment. Most will be rearrested within three years, and many will be returned to prison for new crimes or parole violations. The cycle of incarceration and reentry into society carries the potential for profound adverse consequences for prisoners, their families and communities. But just as the potential costs are great, so too are the opportunities for interventions that could enhance the public safety, health and cohesion of the communities at the center of this cycle.
The CJC recognized the need to reduce recidivism by creating a safety net to assist ex-offenders returning to our County from incarceration, whether they return from state prison or our local jail. With funding from the U.S. Department of Justice through the Second Chance Act Grant, the CJC began the Reentry Program in 2010. The CJC created the Reentry Task Force composed of over 30 individuals representing agencies already involved in reentry services and other social services agencies needed by returning ex-offenders. This Task Force had oversight for the program design and implementation of the program. For the next six (6) years, the program grew to a nationally recognized model with evaluations showing it cut recidivism rates in half. The Adult Reentry Program shows a recidivism rate of 11% for 2016 as compared to 25 to 45% for other similar programs in the nation. In 2014, the Juvenile Reentry Program was initiated working with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. Early indicators shows a positive reduction in recidivism as well. With such great success, the CJC and the Board of County Commissioners felt strongly that the Reentry Program should be sustained and on October 2015, the program was moved from the CJC to the County's Public Safety Department where other CJC created programs, like Pretrial Services and Drug Court, are thriving.
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