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Reentry efforts making a difference

Report Highlights Years of Progress in Effort to Safely and Successfully Transition People from Prison or Jail to Community 

Capitol Hill Event to Showcase Progress, Introduce Bill to Reauthorize the Second Chance Act

WASHINGTON, D.C.June 8, 2017— The National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC) and The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center today released a brief highlighting efforts to reduce recidivism in communities throughout the United States.

The brief, Making People’s Transition from Prison and Jail to the Community Safe and Successful: A Snapshot of National Progress in Reentryprovides new data showing recidivism reduction in a collection of states, including Arizona, ColoradoGeorgia, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas. The brief highlights key advances made over the last decade and a half in understanding what works to keep people from reoffending, how that science has been successfully implemented, and the significant role Congress’s Second Chance Act of 2008 has played in the success to date.

“This brief crystalizes how truly far we’ve come in our fight to improve public safety by combatting recidivism,” said U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), a co-author of the Second Chance Act. “The success we’ve seen is not only a result of the hard work of the dedicated professionals in the law enforcement and criminal justice fields, but also the businesses, educational institutions, health facilities, faith-based organizations and other constituencies that have embraced the goal of making a person’s transition from prison or jail to the community safe and successful.”

Several members of Congress, including U.S. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Scott Taylor (R-VA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), and Danny Davis (D-IL), joined today on Capitol Hill to laud local efforts to improve public safety by reducing recidivism and call on Congress to reauthorize the Second Chance Act. At the event, Reps. Sensenbrenner and Davis also jointly announced the introduction of Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2017.

The science on what works to reduce recidivism has improved dramatically over the last 15 years, and the Second Chance Act has had a lot to do with that advancement,” said U.S. Rep Davis. “As these states continue to apply these data-driven approaches, I’m confident we’ll continue to see these kinds of achievements highlighted in this brief.”

Signed into law by President George W. Bush in April 2008, the Second Chance Act was first-of-its-kind legislation enacted with bipartisan support and backed by a broad spectrum of leaders in law enforcement, corrections, courts, behavioral health, and other areas. The law provides state and local governments and community-based organizations across the country with vital resources to improve success rates for adults and youth released from prison and jail. The reauthorization legislation would allow pivotal investments in strategies to reduce recidivism and increase public safety to continue to be made for an additional four years.

“The research shared today further underscores the meaningful impact the reentry movement has had on statewide efforts to reduce recidivism, and Georgia is living proof of that success,” said Justice Michael Boggs of the Supreme Court of Georgia. “In Georgia, the number of people revoked to prison for parole violations decreased 35 percent from 2007 to 2016, clear evidence that evidence-based reentry and public safety practices produce results.”

The brief also points to similar reductions in a number of other states, including:

• Arizona: 29-percent decline in probation revocations 2008 and 2016
• Colorado: 24-percent decline in the rate of probation revocations 2006 to 2015
• Texas: 33-percent decline in revocations to prison for people on parole 2007 to 2016
• North Carolina: 42-percent decline in the rate of probation revocations 2006 to 2015
•  South Carolina: 46-percent decline in technical revocations 2010 to 2015
• Michigan: 43-percent decline in people returning to prison from parole 2006 to 2015

We’re passed the days when a corrections administrator’s sole duty was to keep people from climbing over the wall,” said Heidi Washington, director of Michigan’s Department of Corrections. “When you realize that 90 to 95 percent of the people in our facilities are eventually going back to the community, you understand why it’s so important to make that transition both safe and successful.”

Along with individual state successes, the brief highlights advancements in the field of reentry, from governors incorporating reentry goals in their State of the State addresses to the 365 counties that have committed to prioritizing treatment for people with mental illness in their jails to the 35 roundtable discussions across 23 states where business leaders have discussed the benefits and challenges of hiring people with criminal records.

“The progress we’re seeing today is encouraging, but more work remains to see the latest research applied in all 50 state departments of corrections, the hundreds of parole and probation agencies, and the more than 3,000 county jail systems,” said U.S. Rep. Sensenbrenner. “I’m confident we can get there by maintaining the momentum and bipartisan support for the good work that’s already been achieved through the Second Chance Act and other efforts.”