“I have the motivation to be in control of my own choices—for how I see my future and how I see my children’s future,” Darius Dennis said. “That’s what the program taught me. So it was absolutely the right thing for me at the right time.”
Second Chance Act Grantees: Highlights and Successes
Byron Davis used the end of his sentence in Limestone Correctional Facility near Huntsville, Alabama, to get ready for his next step: searching for work back home in his community, just outside of Birmingham. He intended to put his conviction for dealing drugs behind him. “I don’t want to go back to that,” Davis said. “But I need to work, to make a living.”
Following four principles of corrections system improvement—organizational development, use of risk and needs assessments, quality improvement, and data collection and management—states like Iowa participate in SRR in an effort to reduce the likelihood of recidivism for every person under correctional supervision.
As the corrections and community supervision paradigms shift toward implementing evidence-based practices and programs (EBPs), there is an emerging need for leaders in the field to ensure accurate application of EBPs throughout the workforce and improve how staff monitor program outcomes.
By focusing the job of corrections officers on reducing recidivism, the Iowa DOC aimed to use resources in the best way possible, ensure that correctional practices were based on evidence, and track outcome data.
“They knew I had a record, but I was never judged,” Haley George said. “They don’t treat me like I’m a number at that plant, they treat me like I’m a person.”
The Middlesex, Massachusetts, Sheriff’s Office opened a new jail unit specifically for young adults this month. Established in partnership with the local nonprofit UTEC and the Vera Institute of Justice, the specialized unit—called People Achieving Change Together (PACT)—seeks to reduce recidivism by offering tailored programming to young people between the ages of 18 and 24 at the Middlesex Jail and House of Correction.
“The connections through Pathfinders [are] really what made the difference for me,” Steimbridge said. On top of the short-term housing assistance she received, she also credits Pathfinders’ individualized mentoring support with helping her stay on track in recovery.
A 55-year-old U.S. Army veteran, Ronald Forbes is on the brink of expanding his Oakland, California-based catering company in partnership with his sister, Catherine. Soon, he’ll move the business to a commercial space, but for now he’s practicing his recipes for barbecue chicken, ribs, and his mom’s potato salad at home.
Staff and a program participant of the Middle Tennessee Rural Reentry (MTRR) Program in Franklin County, TN, a 2015 Second Chance Act Technology-Based Career Training grantee, recently offered insights to fellow grantees as part of the National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC) training event Engaging Local Employers in Promising Practices for Hiring People Who Have Criminal Records.
When Jamel Bonilla (pictured left) was released from the Middleton House of Correction, he knew what he needed most to stay out of prison. “I needed work,” Bonilla said. “I needed money.”
As of September 2017, 51 Vocational Village program participants had been released on parole, 16 of which had secured employment prior to their release. Thirty-eight of the 51 are currently employed.
The Minnesota Department of Corrections was one of five organizations in the country to receive the 2017 Outstanding Criminal Justice Program Award from the National Criminal Justice Association for its High-Risk Revocation Reduction program.
When Sharon Hadley arrived at Santa Maria Hostel in July 2012, she had just completed the latest in her decade-long string of sentences for drug-related offenses. “Now that I look back over my life, I can see how the wheels started coming off even before I really knew it,” Hadley said. “I recidivated 13 times. Each incarceration was longer and longer, and I was more and more hopeless.”
With Second Chance Act grant funding, Santa Maria Hostel began employing recovery coaches in 2013 to provide additional, one-on-one support to women in its Paths to Recovery program to help them meet their reentry goals. Recovery coaches also help connect participants to housing, education, and employment services.
The Back to a Future program, based in Palm Beach County, Florida, has worked in close collaboration with probation partners at the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice since its inception in 2013.
Staff at the CSG Justice Center talked to three reentry programs with promising training practices about their experiences developing and delivering training to volunteer mentors.
As the leaders of Old Pueblo Community Services (OPCS) can attest, the landscape of housing and reentry services is never static. For this nonprofit organization that serves people at risk of homelessness in Pima County, Arizona, the communities they work in, their clients, funding streams, and research into best practices all evolve over time—and OPCS’ leaders recognize the importance of evolving along with that landscape.
“I’ve been in and out of jail for the last 20 years, and this [group] taught me it was time to grow up and stop doing the things I was doing,” Rich said. “Having people who care about how you’re doing and who can lift your spirits is important.”
Held in Washington, DC, in early February, the National Mentoring Summit featured several sessions that focused specifically on mentoring black youth, cultural competency, and diversity.
New Beginnings, a 2011 and 2014 Second Chance Act-funded program of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, received the 2017 Innovation in Corrections Award at the American Correctional Association Conference in San Antonio, Texas last month.
In 2012, young adults accounted for 10 percent of the U.S. population but nearly 30 percent of people arrested and 21 percent of all admissions to adult state and federal prisons. In response to criminal justice data trends and developmental research, states are exploring various approaches to better support young adults in the justice system.
The conference, which was hosted by United States attorneys of the six New England Districts—Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine—uplifted the region’s approach to reentry efforts. Rather than focusing on individual locales, service providers, policymakers, and correctional agencies throughout New England collaborate to ensure a unified approach.
Low recruitment numbers. Poor attendance. Lackluster quarterly reports. These are concerns that burden many nonprofit, community-based outreach programs around the country. For Workforce Connections Inc., an organization that serves people returning to their communities from incarceration in western Wisconsin, these problems were heightened by the rural and semi-rural environments from which the organization draws both participants and volunteers.
The Connection Inc., a Connecticut-based nonprofit organization, was one of five organizations in the country to receive the 2016 Outstanding Criminal Justice Program Award from the National Criminal Justice Association.
“These grants are an important step in fulfilling our promise as a land of second chances by moving beyond locking people up and instead working together to unlock their potential,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez.
UTEC and Roca, two Second Chance Act grantees based in Massachusetts, were highlighted in a recent report by the National Institute of Justice for their innovative approaches to working with young adults.
“We really became committed to reentry,” said Rockdale County Lieutenant Dennis Pass. “So going to command staff and getting buy-in for using this tool wasn’t difficult. They knew finding a tool that doesn’t take a clinician to use is tough, so this was a perfect fit.”
In 2011, Georgia resident Jennifer DeWeese knew very little about the juvenile justice system in her state. She had never heard of a Regional Youth Detention Center (RYDC), nor did she have reason to believe that she would one day end up being an influential voice of personal experience in Georgia’s Department of Juvenile Justice. But then her teenage son stole their neighbor’s car and served more than a month in an RYDC.
“The phrase ‘law enforcement’ pigeonholes the enforcement, but policing is about being a public servant and actually has to do with way more than just putting handcuffs on people,” said Seattle Police Department Detective Kim Bogucki.
With videos, infographics, photographs, flashcard testimonials, and more, Volunteers of America of Indiana makes it easy for people around the community to learn more about reentry, efforts to reduce criminal recidivism, and the rewards of volunteering as a mentor.
People who are returning to Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana, from two correctional facilities in the state are receiving individualized roadmaps to successful reentry from an unexpected place: the RNR Simulation Tool—a web-based, decision-support system designed in part to assist agencies in determining what types of programming will be most effective in reducing a person’s likelihood of committing another crime.
The Vermont DOC organized volunteers from local communities into citizen-based boards, which led, in 1998, to the creation of what are now known across the state as Community Justice Centers (CJCs). Today, there are 20 CJCs in Vermont—one in every county—managed centrally by the Vermont DOC. CJCs provide intensive support services in employment, housing, mentoring, and restitution management for people returning to their communities from incarceration. They rely primarily on volunteers to deliver these services.
Washington is one state that has been deliberate in its efforts to promote job readiness and vocational success for its incarcerated youth, many of whom are 18 to 20 years of age. From October 2013 to September 2015, Washington State’s Juvenile Rehabilitation division—which operates juvenile correctional facilities across the state under the Department of Social and Health Services—administered a Job Readiness to Employment Project called Manufacturing Academy, made possible through a 2013 Second Chance Act Juvenile Demonstration grant.
From Prison to Prosperity, a new program offered by the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment, seeks to curb recidivism and improve reentry outcomes among young adults by prioritizing employment and financial literacy programming.
When Toby Jones first meets her clients, she finds that many of them are shocked that someone wants to help them. Jones is the mentoring program director for Family Pathfinders of Tarrant County in Fort Worth, Texas, where she serves women in Tarrant County Jail’s Intensive Day Treatment program for substance use.
RESET, which is funded by a 2014 Second Chance Act grant, is a six-month program designed specifically for women and implemented through a partnership between a residential reentry center and a nonprofit behavioral health agency. A typical participant in RESET has a co-occurring substance use and mental disorder and a moderate- to high-risk of committing another crime.
Twenty-eight percent of the people released from prison in the State of Iowa in 2010 were back behind bars by 2013, according to the Iowa Department of Corrections’ (IDOC) Iowa Recidivism Report. But, with a grant awarded from the U.S. Department of Justice, the IDOC is leading efforts to drop the state’s recidivism rate by eight percentage points in five years.
The Topeka Correctional Facility—Kansas’s only female correctional facility—is easing barriers to employment for women reentering their communities from prison with Commerce Technology Career Training, a first-of-its-kind program that equips women with marketable, certified skills in the manufacturing technology field.
North Carolina, Virginia, and Iowa have been chosen by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to receive more than $700,000 each to improve the juvenile justice systems in their respective jurisdictions as part of the FY2015 Second Chance Act Comprehensive Statewide Juvenile Reentry System Reform Implementation Program.
“The timing of the pope’s visit puts the spotlight on the crucial area of reentry as a way of conveying that these people are down, they’re looking for a second chance at life, and we have an opportunity to help them make the most of it, and make our communities safer as a result,” Arn Quakkelaar, executive director of Milwaukee-based nonprofit Brothers and Sisters in Christ Serving.
Through pre- and post-incarceration services, Just In Reach creates a stable environment in which goals such as employment and family reunification can be built.
At Detroit Central City Community Mental Health in Wayne County, Michigan, clients used to arrive to see their clinicians or a doctor. Now, more frequently, they come to see their mentor.
The RIDGE Project is today divided into an adult division, a workforce development division, and a youth division. The adult programming begins inside the prison; fathers whose children are younger than 22 and who are within six months from release are eligible.
Santa Maria’s Path to Recovery Program, which received a 2013 Second Chance Act mentoring grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, has been serving women in the Houston area since 2011.
State and local agencies that were awarded a 2014 Second Chance Act Adult Demonstration or Technology Career Training grant sent representatives to New York City to take part in the first Reentry Training Summit hosted and organized by the National Reentry Resource Center, a project of the CSG Justice Center.
As part of Governor Dannel Malloy’s Second Chance Society reentry initiative, Connecticut has opened a new reentry center at one of its prisons to help people prepare for their return to the community. At the Cybulski Community Reintegration Center, men who are within 6 to 18 months of their release receive services to address a variety of issues, including employment, housing, parenting, and substance use.
Working I.T. Out’s job readiness training, which focuses in part on hard skills directly related to job operations and functions, is delivered in partnership with Hostos Community College in the Bronx, while the New York City Department of Education teaches participants essential computer literacy skills. Soft skills training, such as how to talk appropriately with customers and be a team player in the workplace, is provided by STRIVE International.
Every year, the Juvenile Justice Center Wraparound Program in Oakland, California, provides individualized services to more than 350 youth leaving detention, helping them return to school and break the cycle of violence and incarceration in their lives.
In October 2013, 104 government agencies and nonprofit organizations across the country were awarded grants through the Second Chance Act to help improve the outcomes for and reduce recidivism among individuals leaving prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities.
In May 2013, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman signed into law Legislative Bill 561, a major reform bill aimed at improving the juvenile justice system in the state.
The Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS), in partnership with the Commonwealth Corporation and the Collaborative for Educational Services, hosted the first Annual DYS Youth Art Showcase at the Massachusetts State House on June 11, 2013.
The program snapshots in this publication illustrate the positive impact these reentry initiatives can have by focusing on areas vital to successful reintegration back into the community, including employment, education, mentoring, and substance abuse and mental health treatment.