Making inmate reentry safe and successful: using the Report of the Re-Entry Policy Council.

Author:Brown, Katherine

Correctional administrators and practitioners are intimately familiar with the critical need to find ways to keep offenders released to the community from returning to jail and prison. They are now finding powerful allies and new opportunities to promote safe and successful inmate reentry through the Re-Entry Policy Council (RPC). This unprecedented, bipartisan collection of nearly 100 leading elected officials, policy-makers and practitioners working in state and local government and community-based organizations--including institutional and community corrections--has developed a comprehensive set of recommendations to reduce recidivism and help ex-offenders to succeed in their communities. These recommendations were released in January 2005 as the landmark Report of the Re-Entry Policy Council.

The commitment of state policymakers of all stripes to the important issue of reentry is demonstrated by the leadership on the RPC. "This isn't a Republican issue or a Democrat issue. It's about keeping our communities safe and saving money--and those are things both parties want to see happen," said Sen. Eric Bogue, R-S.D., who serves as co-chair of the RPC. "Every state in the nation is grappling with the enormous financial burden of incarceration and reincarceration of offenders, which is even more acute in these difficult economic times." Bogue was joined in chairing the RPC by Assemblyman Jeffrion L. Aubry, D-N.Y., chair of the Assembly Correction Committee, and Rep. John A. Loredo, D-Ariz., minority whip. (1)

Established by the Council of State Governments in 2001, the RPC was organized to develop specific, bipartisan recommendations that would reflect the expertise of a broad spectrum of stakeholders from across the nation. Together, the members of the RPC represent nearly every component of the criminal justice system, as well as those systems that make available education, job training, job placement, housing, health and mental health care, substance abuse treatment, children and family services, victim services, and other forms of support and supervision. These members were organized into three advisory groups--public safety and restorative activities, supportive health and housing, and work force development and employment opportunities--that met both separately and together to identify the key challenges of reentry and to strategize ways for policy-makers and practitioners at all levels of government and in private and nonprofit organizations to address them.

To coordinate the contributions from this range of important, highly relevant viewpoints, the Council of State Governments partnered with 10 organizations to form a steering committee. The perspective of corrections professionals was represented by the Association of State Correctional Administrators and the American Probation and Parole Association. Other agencies included the following:

* Corporation for Supportive Housing;

* National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials;

* National Association of State Alcohol/Drug Abuse Directors;

* National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors;

* National Association of Workforce Boards;

* National Center for State Courts;

* Police Executive...

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