Attorneys: Re-Entry in Indian Country Is Crucial to Reducing Recidivism

Missoulian

By Vince Devlin

POLSON – Michael Batista, the director of the Montana Department of Corrections, likes the story, even if it wasn’t the reaction he was looking for.

Batista was discussing with a Montana sheriff the efforts to better re-assimilate convicted criminals back into society once their prison sentences have been served with a goal of not having them re-offend, when the sheriff stopped him.

“Listen, Mike, I love ya,” Batista said the lawman told him. “But we catch ’em. We don’t clean ’em.”

Of the criminals they catch, up to 97 percent are released back into the general population after serving their sentences, Batista told the Native American Issues Subcommittee of the U.S. Attorney General’s Advisory Committee on Tuesday.

“The real key to lowering the rate (of recidivism) is how good we get at re-entry,” Batista told U.S. attorneys from 25 districts that include Indian Country, and Acting Associate Attorney General Bill Baer.

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