BOSTON – An effort to significantly expand the state’s investment in community-based residential reentry programs is gaining momentum with endorsements from a broad coalition of organizations and individuals, including prosecutors, defense attorneys, and public officials.

The Massachusetts District Attorneys Association on March 21 announced its support for a $5 million infusion into the fiscal 2019 state budget for reentry programs, joining more than 40 organizations and individuals already backing the budget measure sponsored by state Reps. Evandro Carvalho and Dan Cullinane.

The money would fund recidivism-reducing reentry programs run by nonprofit organizations that provide transitional housing, case management, and assistance finding housing, employment, and other services to men and women transitioning back into the community after serving time in Massachusetts jails or state prisons.

In recent years, the state budget has included only $90,000 for community-based residential reentry – roughly the equivalent of the cost to incarcerate two people for a year in state prison.

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Community Resources for Justice began gathering support for the funding measure after three programs that had been providing reentry support in Greater Boston – Span, Inc.; the Boston Reentry Initiative; and Overcoming the Odds – closed or scaled back their operations due to lack of funding. McGrath House, CRJ’s reentry program exclusively for women, is slated to close in April, and Brooke House, CRJ’s reentry center for men in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood, is also in jeopardy of closing.

“We’re thrilled and encouraged by the groundswell of support for real investment in community-based residential reentry,” CRJ President and CEO John Larivee said. “Having dedicated funding in the state budget would reverse this troubling trend of seeing programs that are making a huge difference in the lives of individuals and whole communities forced to close their doors. These programs give people the building blocks to start a new, productive life.”

More than 3,000 individuals are released from Massachusetts state prisons each year, and only a few of them transition through a reentry center, meaning that many will go directly from incarceration to the community without a job, a valid ID, or a safe and secure place to stay. More than half of individuals released from state prisons in 2011 were re-arraigned within three years. For those leaving county jails, the numbers were even worse – more than two-thirds were back before a judge in that same period.

Spending time in a reentry center in the community can reduce recidivism for individuals assessed as having a high-risk of re-offending by up to 25 percent.

“It is pretty clear from those numbers that recidivism is the fire where we should be pouring more of our water,” Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrissey in a press release announcing prosecutors’ support for reentry funding. “The district attorneys have been working at this for quite a while. We believe Community Resources for Justice and the defense bar, in advocating here to meaningfully address recidivism, reinforce our position at a critical time; we hope this funding is written into law.”

To date, the reentry funding proposal has received support from:

  • Boston Area Rape Crisis Center
  • Community Resources for Justice
  • Dorchester Bay Economic Development
  • Ex-Prisoners and Prisoners Organizing for Community Advancement (EPOCA)
  • Gardiner Howland Shaw Foundation
  • Gavin Foundation
  • Haley House
  • Hays Companies
  • Hyde Square Task Force
  • InnerCity Weightlifting
  • Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Massachusetts Association for Mental Health
  • Massachusetts Communities Action Network
  • Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers, Inc.
  • MassINC
  • Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery (MOAR)
  • National Association of Social Workers – Massachusetts
  • Newburyport Chamber of Commerce
  • Pine Street Inn
  • Progressive Massachusetts
  • Roca, Inc
  • Strategy Matters
  • Year Up
  • YouthConnect
  • Boston City Councilor Andrea Campbell
  • Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards
  • Boston City Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George
  • Boston City Councilor Ed Flynn
  • Boston City Councilor Kim Janey
  • Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley
  • Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley
  • Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu
  • Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim
  • Roy L. Austin Jr., Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP, CRJ board member
  • Sandra Best Bailly, Simmons College, CRJ board member
  • Honorable Margot Botsford, Massachusetts Supreme Court (Retired), CRJ board member
  • Joseph C. Carter, Massachusetts National Guard (Retired), CRJ board member
  • Jamoul Celey, City Year, CRJ board member
  • Tim Cabot, Katahdin Industries, CRJ board member
  • Thomas J. DeSimone, WS Development Associates LLC, CRJ board member
  • Carlos Febres-Mazzei, Eastdil Secured, CRJ board member
  • Annette Hanson, Tufts Medical Center, CRJ board member
  • Scott Harshbarger, Casner & Edwards, LLP, CRJ board member
  • Gerald K. Kelley, MBTA (Retired), CRJ board member
  • James G. Marchetti, Raytheon Company, CRJ board member
  • Honorable James F. McHugh, Massachusetts Appeals Court (Retired), CRJ board member
  • Ellen M. Lawton, The George Washington University, CRJ board member
  • Gerry Morrissey, The MENTOR Network, CRJ board member
  • Lisa Newman-Polk, Esq., LCSW, Law Office of Lisa Newman-Polk, CRJ board member
  • Neni Odiaga, Esq., Criminal Defense Attorney, CRJ board member
  • Peter Tamm, Goulston & Storrs, CRJ board member
  • Peter Patch, Patch and Associates LLC, CRJ board member
  • Michele Barry, Vistage
  • Frank Cousins, Newburyport Chamber of Commerce
  • Craig Dandrow, Hays Companies
  • Mike Egan, Hays Companies
  • Jim Hays, Hays Companies
  • Michael O’Keefe, Cape and Islands District Attorney
  • Scott Johnson, XP Power RF Power Systems
  • Eric Kasen, Hays Companies
  • Lyn Levy, SPAN Inc. founder
  • William H. McCance, Trust Advisory Group, Ltd.
  • Tim Orcutt, Hays Companies
  • Damaris Pimentel, Jamaica Plain Small Business Owner
  • Julie Redmond, Hays Companies
  • Paul Swindlehurst, Seacoast Philanthropy Services
  • Ed Travelin, Hays Companies
  • Pastor Bruce H. Wall, Global Ministries Christian Church