State directors and staff in the fields of public safety, mental health, social services, and corrections are rolling out implementations of the state Justice Reinvestment Initiative. It aims to turn around Missouri’s rising incarceration rates by investing in treatment and other services rather than in prisons.
While governors set the tone and the general direction of a state’s destiny, it is the legislature they work with — independent and made of dozens of independent minds — that controls the flow of the conversation.
Sheriff Steve Tompkins recently told a roomful of public officials and inmates that the PEACE unit—an acronym for “Positive Energy Always Creates Elevation”—is part of an effort to reshape the way people are treated behind bars.
“People that are healthy are more likely to be able to find work,” said Tom Betti, press secretary for the Ohio Department of Medicaid. “In the long run that saves taxpayer dollars. They are healthier, employed and not reincarcerated.”
A new law meant to make it easier for Missouri crime victims to request financial aid to help pay for medical coverage, counseling and other expenses appears to be working, advocates say.
“Massachusetts has been a leader in this, really taking advantage of a groundswell across the nation of general support for good reentry (programming),” said Nicole Jarrett, director of the National Reentry Resource Center.
Summit County already has strong juvenile diversion programs in place. About 90 percent of eligible youth are sent through the programs after risk assessments which include severity of their crime, whether it was their first offense and other risk factors, such as if they’re still in school or not.
U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) recently introduced their Second Chance Reauthorization Act, bipartisan legislation to reauthorize and amend the Second Chance Act, a law that supports state and local reentry programs to reduce recidivism.
States are showing a reduction in their three-year, return-to-prison rates, according to new data revealed by the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center. “Reducing Recidivism: States Deliver Results,” an ongoing series by the CSG Justice Center, tracked data from 11 state corrections agencies to reveal significant multi-year declines in reincarceration rates since their peak years of recidivism.
Wyoming and North Dakota do not share a border but do share some definitive traits — wide open spaces, a largely rural population, energy booms and busts and staunch Republican control of state government.