The following is an excerpt from an op-ed that first ran on June 29, 2018, on WBUR. Click here for the full version.
Massachusetts took a major step forward this spring with the passage of long-overdue criminal justice reform legislation that’s aim is to create a fairer system to protect public safety, while also offering second chances for individuals who’ve served their time.
But this work will not be complete until we ensure that the men and women who are released from jail have the tools they need to forge a new path: one that leads to a healthy, productive life and not back to a courtroom or prison cell.
The key is community-based residential reentry programs that offer intensive case management and individualized assistance in securing basic necessities, such as finding housing, employment, job training, mental health counseling and more.
The $3 million for reentry programs, now under consideration by legislators on Beacon Hill as part of the fiscal year 2019 budget, represents an opportunity for enormous progress on this front. That amount is 33 times — yes, 33 times — what the state dedicated toward these programs this past year and would provide reentry services for 450 to 500 individuals per year.