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PSJ Celebrates Victory on Re-entry Policy Goal June 1, 2007

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

On Friday, May 25th, Governor Kulongoski signed an executive order creating a Re-entry Council. The Re-entry Council will serve as a taskforce to examine changes in government’s policies and practices in order to encourage the success of formerly incarcerated people returning to the community. The following is a link to a Statesman Journal article on the announcement: Article

The creation of this taskforce is one of our core policy goals for 2007 and we are incredibly happy this is happening. We see this as a major step forward in addressing the barriers people face during and after their transition from prison.

The Re-entry Council will consist of 19 people who will mostly represent state agencies. The Governor acknowledges that tackling re-entry barriers requires efforts and coordination from multiple state and local agencies and we agree.

Although this is a sign of progress, we are concerned that the Council does not have official representation of at least one formerly incarcerated person. PSJ believes that we need to involve impacted people in developing policy solutions in order to be successful. Nevertheless, we are not deterred. As the work of the Council gets serious, they will develop issue-area workgroups at which time additional people with critical expertise will join the work. We see this as an opportunity to bring much needed depth and diversity to the discussions. Rest assured we will be in dialogue with the Department of Corrections and the Governor’s office with helpful suggestions on how to make the Re-entry Council as productive as possible.

We would like to think that our years of hard work raising consciousness about re-entry barriers and the need to get smarter about our approach to public safety helped lay the groundwork for this.

We certainly spent a fair amount of time encouraging the Governor’s staff to make this happen. That said, we want to give credit where credit is due. We know that Max Williams worked hard on this and we were impressed by Governor Kulongoski’s speech.

The Governor is taking much needed leadership in reigning in skyrocketing prison growth and offering a new and valuable vision for creating public safety. Here is a brief excerpt from the Governor’s speech:

“…criminal justice has to be about more than punishment – it’s also about Hope. Hope for a better future – for our citizens who deserve safe communities – and for those at risk of sliding into a life of crime. People who have served their time need an opportunity to turn their life around – a job, a place to live, a chance for a new start.”

Governor Kulongoski

This is a very positive sign that Oregon is beginning to get smart about its approach to public safety.

If you have not already seen our report, Access Denied in Oregon: A Report on Barriers Faced by People with a Past Felony Conviction, you can find it on our website with the following link.
http://safetyandjustice.org/info/or/story/946

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