Senator Sheldon Whitehouse standing with CRJ staff outside Houston House on April 29, 2019.

PAWTUCKET, R.I. – Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse visited Houston House, CRJ’s residential reentry center in Pawtucket, in April to see firsthand how community-based programs support individuals transitioning from incarceration back into the community.

Whitehouse met with CRJ staff, community members, and officials from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services for the District of Rhode Island at the program during a tour of the facility, a converted convent in the Woodlawn neighborhood.

Houston House staff provided an overview of how the program works, including security and accountability measures, as well as the value of having a reentry center in Rhode Island to support individuals in finding employment, housing, counseling, and other resources to help them succeed in the community.

Houston House, which opened in 2017, is the only community-based residential reentry center in Rhode Island serving individuals returning from the federal prison system. Prior to its opening, individuals returning to Rhode Island transitioned through CRJ’s Coolidge House in Boston, making it more difficult for them to establish lasting connections in the communities in which they planned to live after completing their stay in the program.

Probation officials said the program is having a positive impact on their clients, and community members said they support having Houston House in their neighborhood.

Whitehouse also had the opportunity to speak with a resident of the program, who said his stay was going very well.

After more than an hour at the program, Whitehouse commended CRJ staff for their work and reiterated his support for criminal justice reform and reentry.