BOSTON – A budget amendment that would dedicate $5 million to programs assisting men and women transition back into the community after incarceration is gathering support in the state Senate.
State Sen. Will Brownsberger filed amendment 1015, which would provide funding for community-based residential reentry programs. So far, 11 additional senators have signed on to co-sponsor the amendment: Sens. Joseph Boncore, Jason Lewis, Michael Brady, Cynthia Creem, James Eldridge, Cindy Friedman, Michael Barrett, Michael Moore, Patricia Jehlen, Michael Rush, Nick Collins, and Julian Cyr.
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.
The House earlier this spring passed a budget that included $3 million for residential reentry following 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. The first version of the Senate’s budget did not include the additional funding for reentry.
On May 18, Boston Bar Association President Mark Smith sent a letter to all 40 senators urging them to support the budget amendment and fund reentry programs.
To join the push for reentry funding, reach out to your state senator before Monday, May 21 at noon. Let them know that you support this funding, and ask them to co-sponsor amendment 1015. Click here to find your senator’s contact information.
If you live in Senator Brownsberger’s district (Back Bay, Fenway, Brighton, Watertown, Belmont), please thank him for his leadership on reentry and let him know that you support his amendment 1015. For all other senators, below is some suggested language to send in an email or to say to staff on a phone call:
“My name is ________, and I’m a constituent in your district (include address). I support amendment 1015 filed by Senator Brownsberger for line item 0339-1011 for $5 million for funding in the senate budget for community-based residential reentry services that reduce recidivism. Alongside the passage of criminal justice reforms, we need to make sure to support our returning citizens as they reintegrate into our communities, and this funding is crucial to providing housing, case management and linkages to substance use and mental health treatment, and other reentry services. Please sign-on to co-sponsor amendment 1015 and advocate for the inclusion of reentry funding in the senate budget.”