The Urban Institute, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary of "nonpartisan economic and social policy research" this year, recently published "Life After Lockup: Improving ReEntry from Jail to the Community."
According to the Bureau of Justice, there are approximately 12 million admissions and releases from local jails across the country each year. Jails are local facilities, different from state-run or federal prisons. The 9 million individuals who make up these admissions and releases are often incarcerated for very brief periods of time, with over 80% staying for less than one month.
Although the barriers facing those who cycle in and out of jail are similar to those who end up in prison - substance abuse, housing and employment instability, mental illness and other health problems - re-entry policy has generally focused on the state prison system. Jails present some unique challenges because of the system's decentralized structure, and the quick turnaround time for inmates. Many in this group, however, are already clients of health and human service and community agencies. Thus, the authors believe that jails must partner with these agencies, faith based organizations and families to help inmates connect with the services which may help prevent them from recidivating.
Among the report's rubber-meets-the-road recommendations:
Every person walking out the door should receive a discharge pack or resource kit that tells them exactly where they can go for treatment or other services. Everyone should also have government-issued identification and a bus pass. More tips and strategies can be found in their "Jail Administrator's Toolkit for ReEntry."
In our community, one-stop staff have been meeting with the various units of adult probation to share information about the services available, and solicit input on ways we can better collaborate. What are some steps that you can take in your community to collaborate better with the jails?
Image source: static.sky.com