March 8, 2005

 

Part VI: Safety, Justice & Crime Prevention

In the section on "Rehabilitation" make the following changes to emphasize: (1) that rehabilitation is an integral part of incarceration and post-incarceration release, and not just an afterthought; (2) that successful re-integration depends upon the availability of community-based, supervised residential programming, in the absence of which, ex-offenders are more likely to become homeless, resume substance abuse, and/or re-offend; and (3) that despite an ex-offender’s best efforts, s/he may have trouble overcoming the reluctance of a prospective landlord or employer, in the absence of some kind of formal affirmation that the ex-offender has made a good faith effort to "go straight."

[Rationale: Although the State has committed to ensuring that no inmate in its custody is released to homelessness, the inadequate availability of halfway houses and other residential pre- and post-release options undermines that commitment. A significant portion of the 20,000 inmates released each year from State prisons (plus an additional number released from County facilities) wind up on the streets and in shelters, where substance abuse, mental health problems, and criminal activities are more likely to recur.

Whereas ex-offenders discharged into the community on parole or probation are subject to supervision during the initial stages of their re-entry from prison, inmates who complete their sentence behind bars (i.e., "wrap" their sentences) are not subject to that kind of supervision. (In fact, they are no longer technically in the custody of the State, and therefore not subject to the State’s commitment to prevent homelessness-causing discharges.) In the absence of adequate community corrections options, too few inmates are released before their sentence expires. Again, without supervision and support, inmates are more likely to run into trouble and re-offend.

Finally, even the best-intentioned ex-offender has difficulty finding housing or employment, given the understandable reluctance of landlords and employers to avoid "trouble," and given the easy access to CORIs. Implementation of a mechanism (the Certificate of Rehab is a NY State program) allowing ex-offenders to document their successful participation in a rehabilitation program would reduce barriers to housing and employment; of course, without housing and a conventional means of support, individuals become homeless and/or turn to crime to get money.]

_________________________________

Thank you for your consideration of my suggestions.

 

 

 

Fred Berman 25 Cherry St. Somerville, MA 02144

(W) 617-349-6209 (H) 617-776-0503 email: fredlori@rcn.com