BOSTON — The Boston Globe on Monday, June 18, published an editorial calling on Massachusetts lawmakers hammering out the fiscal year 2019 budget to include $3 million for community-based residential reentry programs.
The House version of the budget included the funding; the Senate’s did not. A conference committee made up of members of both chambers is now working out the differences in the two versions to create a final budget.
“Ultimately, the success of criminal justice reform will be judged on the state’s ability to repair the lives of offenders and keep the crime rate down,” the editorial board wrote. “Building on our reentry systems — and doing it right — is critical to both endeavors.”
Reentry programs provide transitional housing, case management, and assistance finding employment, permanent housing, substance abuse treatment, and other services to individuals completing the final months of their incarceration. Participation in a reentry program has been shown to reduce recidivism for individuals assessed as high-risk by up to 25 percent, which promotes lower crime and stronger communities.
These programs have in the past largely relied on grants and donations, and an increasing number are being forced to close their doors as funding dries up. In recent years, the state budget has included about $90,000 for community-based residential reentry programs – roughly the equivalent of the cost to incarcerate two people in state prison for a year.
A groundswell of support from a diverse coalition that included Community Resources for Justice, prosecutors, defense attorneys, county sheriffs, lawmakers, and dozens of individuals and community organizations began raising awareness of the need for increased reentry funding after several programs were forced to close due to lack of funding, including CRJ’s McGrath House, the state’s only halfway house exclusively serving women. Brooke House, a CRJ program in the Fenway neighborhood, is also in jeopardy of closing without an infusion of funding.
How you can help
- Send the editorial with a personal note to your state legislators asking them to urge conference committee members to support line item 0339-1011 in the House budget. Find your lawmakers’ contact information here.
- Invite friends and colleagues to reach out to their legislators.
- Send a letter to the editor to the Boston Globe supporting the paper’s editorial. From the Globe: “Letters should be written exclusively to the Globe and include name, address, and daytime telephone number. They should be 200 words or fewer. All are subject to editing. Send to: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Fax: 617-929-2098.“