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CSG Justice Center Convenes Meeting of State and Community Leaders to Foster Re-Entry Partnerships July 30, 2007

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

The Council of State Governments Justice Center convened a meeting in Miami last month to discuss how to improve collaborations between state governments and community and faith-based organizations to serve people released from prisons and jails. Representatives from federal and state agencies, community and faith-based organizations, and private foundations offered their perspectives on the most significant factors limiting successful re-entry partnerships, and what can be done to address them. The Justice Center convened the meeting with support from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice, and the Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, U.S. Department of Labor.

Community-based organizations have an extensive history of outreach and service to people involved in the criminal justice system. However, there are numerous challenges that impede efforts by state governments and community and faith-based organizations to work together on re-entry issues. Staffs of such organizations may have insufficient training to address the unique needs of people released from prisons and jails, difficulty complying with government regulations and contract requirements, and inexperience tracking and reporting program outcomes. Government agencies may have limited familiarity with small, neighborhood-based organizations and the services they provide, and their requests for proposals may not reach this constituency.

Participants at the Miami meeting discussed strategies to overcome these challenges, focusing on five specific areas for improvement:

Co-chairs of the meeting were Justice Center board members Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry (D) and Senator Stephen Wise (R). Aubry is a member of the New York State Assembly and chairs the Assembly’s Correction Committee. Wise is a Florida State senator. He also chairs the Education Pre-K-12 Appropriations Committee and is a member of the Criminal Justice Committee in the Florida State Legislature.

“People returning home from prison or jail face many obstacles to starting a new life and becoming productive, law-abiding citizens,” Assemblyman Aubry said. “Partnerships between state governments and organizations focused on re-entry needs of prisoners can help support this transition, improving not only the lives of people returning home from jail or prison, but also the lives of their friends and families, and the safety of their communities and neighborhoods.”

“Community and faith-based organizations have a wealth of experience addressing the safe and successful return of people released from prison or jail, such as helping them find employment, housing, and substance abuse treatment,” Senator Wise said. “The Justice Center’s meeting was an important step toward creating a policy guide that will address recidivism and encourage partnerships between these organizations and state governments.”

The Justice Center will use the group’s input to develop a policy guide that will provide recommendations for state governments to improve and expand collaborative efforts with community and faith-based organizations. The guide will also highlight several existing partnerships that are successfully addressing the needs of people released from prisons and jails.

For more information about the Justice Center’s work to facilitate successful re-entry partnerships between state governments and community and faith-based organizations, please download the full project description on the Re-Entry Policy Council website.



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