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States Establish Reentry Councils to Oversee Initiatives, Promote Interagency Collaboration August 31, 2007

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

Several states recently established councils that will study, promote, and help carry out effective reentry policies. Drawing their membership from various government entities, as well as community-based organizations, these councils evaluate reentry practices, make recommendations for improvements to policies, and guide the implementation of responses to people released from prisons and jails. The goal of these councils is to address the factors that contribute to high rates of recidivism, thereby increasing public safety and reducing corrections spending.

In May 2007, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski issued an executive order establishing the Governor’s Re-Entry Council, a 19-member group composed of leaders from corrections, law enforcement, and social services agencies, as well as community-based organizations. The council is charged with reviewing Oregon’s existing reentry policies, making specific recommendations for improvements to these policies, and coordinating new initiatives across the state. According to a recent press release from the governor’s office, one-third of the people released from prison in Oregon are convicted of a new felony within three years of their release. The new Re-Entry Council is committed to lowering this rate and increasing public safety through collaborative, statewide efforts to promote individuals’ safe and successful transitions from prisons or jails to the community.

Several other states passed legislation to the same effect during their most recent session:

These new councils and advisory groups follow examples set by other states, such as Kansas. Last year, as part of its Offender Risk Reduction and Reentry plan, Kansas established a Reentry Policy Council that includes key cabinet secretaries and legislative officials. The council promotes collaboration among state agencies to provide wide-ranging services including employment training, housing assistance, and substance abuse treatment; advocates for effective reentry policy; and develops neighborhood-based strategies to reduce recidivism. Recently, the council created a steering committee of deputy managers which holds biweekly meetings to discuss various reentry issues in depth, identify key issues to address, and establish specific task forces when needed. To read more about Kansas’s reentry initiatives and recent legislation, see the May 24, 2007 and July 27, 2007 issues of this newsletter.

For more information about developing effective reentry policies and promoting interagency collaboration to address the needs of people who are released from prisons and jails, see Part I of the Report of the Re-Entry Policy Council.



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