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.
Click below for media coverage: Boston Globe The Patriot Ledger Boston Herald CapeCod.com Boston Neighborhood Network News Daily Free Press Sampan CommonWealth Magazine CommonWealth Magazine (Part 2) Fenway News Click here for a series of op-eds on reentry
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.”
Click here to read the support statement and view a list of signers.