Thursday June 20, 2013
Governor Establishes Inmate Re-Entry Council to Reduce Criminal RecidivismSalem-News.com Capitol Watch
Oregon prisons currently house nearly 13,500 inmates, a record number due to tougher sentencing laws and the state’s growing population.
(SALEM, Ore. ) - Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski last week issued an executive order creating the Governor’s Re-Entry Council, a statewide leadership group to work collaboratively on improving the success and safety of inmates’ transitions back into society after they complete their sentences. “We know that ninety-seven percent of all inmates in Oregon will lawfully be released back into society,” the Governor noted before approving the order.
“With this order, Oregon will move into the lead with a handful of other states that are prioritizing integrated re-entry policies that help to reduce crime, strengthen the public’s safety, and save the taxpayers money.” The order instructs the Re-Entry Council to create a common vision for transition and re-entry of offenders upon their release, including: Reviewing existing policies and practices, with specific recommendations for improvement, including such as institutional case planning, institutional transition planning and preparation, information sharing, the continuum of services following release, housing and employment with specific recommendations for improvement; Coordinating state re-entry initiatives across Oregon; Removing barriers that impede successful transition and reintegration; and Recommending changes in funding to support the reformed transition process.
Appearing at the signing ceremony, stakeholders from state, county and local government, as well as community service and advocacy groups, endorsed the Governor’s new initiative. Department of Corrections Director Max Williams, Director of the Department of Human Services Dr. Bruce Goldberg, Tillamook County Sheriff Todd Anderson and Volunteers of America Oregon Director Kay Toran all spoke in support of the new council. “Re-entry is not solely a corrections issue. It is clear both nationally and in Oregon that the number and nature of the barriers to successful re-entry are many, and extend far beyond the boundaries of the criminal justice system,” Director Max Williams said.
“It will take leadership among diverse stakeholders – to first identify the systemic barriers to successful re-entry and then to find cost-effective ways to overcome those barriers – for Oregon to achieve its public safety goals.” Oregon prisons currently house nearly 13,500 inmates, a record number due to tougher sentencing laws and the state’s growing population.
Each year about 4,000 offenders are released back into the community at the end of their sentences, becoming part of the 34,000 offenders under supervision across Oregon at any given time. Yet over the past decade, Oregon’s recidivism rate has remained relatively stable.
One out of every three people released from prison is convicted of a new felony crime within three years of release.
Policymakers, practitioners and researchers are increasingly identifying coordination of re-entry efforts as critical to successful outcomes and rehabilitation.
It is the central goal of the Governor with this initiative to lower that rate; reducing crime, strengthening the public’s safety and saving taxpayers money. The Re-Entry Council will consist of 19 members including the Governor, director of the Department of Corrections, chair of the Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision, director of the Oregon Youth Authority, director of the Department of Human Services, director of the Employment Department, director of the Oregon Housing and Community Services Department, director of the Veterans’ Affairs Department, administrator of the Driver and Motor Vehicles Division, director of the Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development, and a member each from the Oregon House of Representatives, Oregon Senate, Oregon Association of Community Corrections Directors, Oregon State Sheriffs Association, Oregon District Attorneys Association, Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, Oregon Judicial Department, Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police and private social service providers focused on offender transition. A copy of the Order can be found at: governor.oregon.gov/Gov/eo0705.pdf
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