"Today when I think of reentry court, I am reminded that nearly every offender sentenced to time in custody will return to the community from whence they came. And thus, every sentencing court is in fact, a reentry court, creating a pathway for the offender’s reentry into society." -Jeff Tauber

Reentry Court Judge Receives Judiciary’s Top Honor

Nov. 20, 2012

For those who have questioned the efficacy and ultimately the relevance of Reentry Courts in the criminal justice system, the following news should be of great interest. I present the following News Release from the National Center for State Courts:

Williamsburg, Va. — Indiana Superior Court Criminal Division Judge John F. Surbeck Jr. has been named recipient of the 2012 William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence from the National Center for State Courts. One of the most prestigious judicial honors in the country, the Rehnquist Award is presented annually to a state court judge who exemplifies the highest level of judicial excellence, integrity, fairness, and professional ethics. Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts Jr. will present the award to Judge Surbeck during a ceremony at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. on November 15.

“Judge Surbeck is an inspiration and an example to everyone who works in the justice system. He has accomplished what most of us set out to do with our lives – he’s making a true difference in the lives of others,” said NCSC President Mary C. McQueen. “Those who work with him, refer to Judge Surbeck as a pioneer and a trailblazer in the field of reentry courts. I would add that he’s also a proven leader for the nation’s court community when it comes to integrity and judicial innovation.”

Judge Surbeck is the founder of reentry courts in Indiana and considered a “trailblazer” nationally in this field. Through the progression of his career – a public defender for 16 years before becoming a judge in 1988 – he became aware of the need for reentry courts. As a public defender, Judge Surbeck realized he represented one generation of individuals, then as a judge he saw those individuals’ children and grandchildren appear before him in criminal court. He was determined to change that cycle. Judge Surbeck took a map of the city and tracked the addresses to which prisoners returned after release. His map revealed that prisoners overwhelmingly returned to the neighborhoods where drugs and other illegal opportunities are in abundance. This was evidence to Judge Surbeck that once released, prisoners had no chance of success without a solid support system.  

In 2000, Judge Surbeck worked with others to design the Allen County Reentry Court, which helps transition offenders on early release back into the community by providing counseling, mentoring, and help with finding a job. Five years after establishing the reentry court, statistics showed that the program had reduced the rate of prisoners reoffending to 34 percent, compared to nearly 60 percent nationally. Since opening in July 2001, more than 600 offenders have completed the program.

“Judge Surbeck has made a tremendous and long-lasting impact on the courts of Indiana and elsewhere and has brought fresh ideas and a proven track record to the seemingly intractable problem of recidivism,” Indiana Chief Justice Brent E. Dickson and Lilia Judson, Executive Director, Division of State Court Administration, said in a letter of reference for the award.

Before being appointed a Superior Court judge in 1988, Judge Surbeck served as an Allen County deputy public defender from 1972 to 1988. He has been named Judge of the Year by the Indiana Correctional Association and in 2002 was named Fort Wayne Journal Gazette Citizen of the Year. He received his law degree from Indiana University.

I provide this press release mid-week as it is of  some importance. I will have more to say about this seminal event next week.

Cal Realignment hits a Speed Bump

Nov. 4, 2012

Something unanticipated is happening to the California AB109 Prison Realignment Reform.They have (as hoped) placed some 27,000 ex-prisoners under probation rather than parole supervision and by statute denied the courts and counties the authority to return these offenders to prison without a new serious or violent offense. But of late, the number of prisoners has stopped its substantial monthly reduction, to the point where the drop in state prisoners was a total of seventy-seven in August (see L.A. Times graph).

 

It’s somewhat unclear why the reduction in prisoners has been reduced to a trickle, but the situation presents serious problems for the state. Califronia is under a Federal Court order to reduce its prison population or face the Federal Court ordering the release of prisoners.

More baffling is the stabilization in the numbers of state prisoners. It is suggested in an article in the Los Angeles Times that it is the result of county judges who decide to send offenders to state prison, rather than keep them local. But judges have limited discretion to send offenders to state prison if the new offense is what is called a triple non (conviction of a non serious, non-violent. non- sex offender).  But those judges who are intent on sending triple nons, (with serious or violent prior convictions) to state prison, often have the discretion to do so. This may be why the prison population is no longer dropping. Clearly, further investigation and analysis is required to understand why realignment has hit a speed bump.

 

A Model of a Court Based Sentencing System

Evidence-based Sentencing systems            [PDF]      

Judge Jeffrey Tauber; [email protected]: 9/30/12

We have developed evidence based practices for the sentencing of offenders (based on voluminous research), but are still reticent to apply those practices where they will do the most good, in making sentencing decisions. Rational approaches to sentencing that provide different levels of supervision, treatment, rehabilitation, and assistance for felons are attainable and in effect in some states and jurisdictions.

[[he Diagram below is used in this article as an example of a basic evidence-based sentencing system]

[Click on Image Above for 12 Part Analysis of this Court Based Sentencing Model ]

CSG data shows reduction in Prison Recidivism

 

Sept. 25, 2012

From an NRRC Press Release:

On September 25th, the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center’s National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC) released a policy brief highlighting a number of states that are reporting significant reductions in recidivism. The states profiled in the report show significant declines in their three-year recidivism rates based on data tracking individuals released from prison in 2005 and 2007. Texas and Ohio reported reductions of 11 percent, while the Kansas rate fell by 15 percent and Michigan’s rate dropped by 18 percent. Incorporating data through 2010 (and in some cases, through 2011), the report provides some of the most recent data available for statewide three-year recidivism rates. [For  copy of the report, click on the image on the left]

Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress, and the U.S. Department of Justice and other cabinet agencies have been instrumental in creating a climate that has propelled the work of state and local governments in reducing recidivism. Most notably, under the Second Chance Act, landmark legislation passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, state and local governments and their community-based partners have been able to seed new reentry initiatives and expand existing efforts.

U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R, OH), a co-author of the Second Chance Act, applauded the states, including Ohio, for their accomplishments. “Second Chance Act programs, in collaboration with faith-based and community organizations and local reentry coalitions, have a proven record of helping inmates turn their lives around, and I applaud their continued good efforts to reduce recidivism. Encouraging people released from prison to become productive members of society not only strengthens communities, but also reduces the burden on taxpayers who shoulder the costs associated with incarceration.”

The brief, “States Report Reductions in Recidivism,” highlights strategies that leaders in several states credit with helping drive down recidivism:

  • In Ohio, state policymakers standardized the use of a validated risk assessment instrument to focus limited treatment and supervision resources on those individuals assessed at the highest risk for reoffending.
  • In Kansas, state leaders awarded performance-based grants to community corrections agencies, partnered with local communities where recidivism rates were highest to improve post-release supervision, and enhanced housing and workforce development services to better meet the needs of people coming out of prison.
  • Michigan officials invested heavily in the state’s Prisoner Reentry Program, prioritizing funding for housing, employment, and other transition support services in order to provide the most effective community-based programming for released individuals.

Adam Gelb, director of the Pew Center on the States’ Public Safety Performance Project, said: “Reducing recidivism can produce a big payoff: If states across the country could reduce their recidivism rates by just 10 percent, they could save more than half a billion dollars combined in one year alone in averted prison costs.”

Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps said: “Corrections administrators know that reducing recidivism is a goal that can be accomplished only in partnership with other agencies and community-based organizations. At the same time, we recognize that governors, legislators, and the public are holding departments of correction accountable for their recidivism rates. The data highlighted in this brief demonstrate that we in corrections are standing up to meet this responsibility and are getting results.”

Denise E. O’Donnell, Director, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) in the U.S. Department of Justice, congratulated the states highlighted in the brief. “At BJA, we’re supporting states who are committed to taking a data-driven approach to lowering re-offense rates of people released from prison and jail. Later this week, we’ll be announcing major awards to a select group of states that are setting recidivism reduction targets, and like the states highlighted today, are using evidence-based approaches to meet the goals they set.”

Evidence Based Practices in Reentry Court

THE BEST OF: The following article, initially published on Feb. 15, 2010, makes the connection between Drug Courts’ Ten Key Components and Evidence Based Practices and comes out in favor of instituting scientifically proven Evidence Based Practices.

Implementing Evidence-Based Practices (on your left), by Marc Carey and Frank Domurad, published by the Center for Effective Public Policy, under a grant from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, is the best publication I have found on the application of EBP to Prisoner Reentry

If you have or are planning a reentry court, you need to be familiar with “Evidence Based Practices” (EBP).   The challenge for a reentry court is to adopt proven empirical and research driven, “Evidence Based Practices”, designed to reduce recidivism. To do so, a reentry courts will need  qualified personnel, with open minds, and pioneering spirits. Perhaps we should start with a bit of history.

The Drug Court field’s Ten Key Components (NADCP/OJP; 1997) have been  around since 1997 and have stood the test of time. However, while still valuable as general principles, they don’t provided guidance as to what specific features reduce drug usage and recidivism.They were developed by practitioners like myself (I was an ex-drug court judge and NADCP’s President at the time), who knew what we were doing was working, but not exactly why. When we came together in Washington D.C., it was clear that the  fast growing field needed standards and guidance. So we created a template that was broad and based on commonsense. What we didn’t know was whether research and empirical evaluation would back up our beliefs. That the components have been implemented and adhered to by thousands of drug and problem-solving court practitioners in the intervening years is extraordinary in itself. But as I said before, for all the success of the “Key Components”, they didn’t provide the guidance we needed, to know which features to build  into our programs to make them more effective. Since then, the “Key Components” have been scientifically evaluated, substantiated to an extent, and have evolved (to my way of thinking) into  what has become known as  “Evidence Based Practices”,  or  scientifically proven”Best Practices” (specific guidelines) for the Problem-Solving Field.

According to the Pew Center on the States, “Evidence Base Practices”,  mean “supervision policies, procedures, programs, and practices that scientific research demonstrate reduce recidivism among individuals on probation, parole, or post-release supervision” (Policy Framework to Strengthen Community Corrections; Pew Public Safety Performance Project; 1998). The Crime and Justice Institute and National Institute of Corrections have produced a major report, authored by Judge Roger Warren (ret.), President Emeritus of the National Center for State Courts,  entitled Evidence-Based Practices to ReduceRecidivism: Implications for State Judiciaries, written for  the Conference of Chief Justices, the Conference of State Court Administrators, and the National Center for State Courts. The National Association of Drug Court Professionals has also produced a monograph on the topic: “Quality Improvement for Drug Courts: Evidence Based Practices” (National Drug Court Institute Monograph #9; 2008)  The reentry court practitioner needs to rely on peer approved and recognized works in establishing its structures, procedures, and processes.

Even with all the scientific and institutional support for the implementation of EBP, the application of Evidence Based Practices to reentry court will be a hard sell. EBP often runs counter to  the practitioner’s conventional thinking on sentencing and rehabilitation practices. (ie. Best to play it safe and provide services for worthy non-violent, non-serious offenders, return parolees to prison for all but the most minor of violations, use the same sanctions and incentives for all drug abusers, etc.) And it’s not as simple and straight forward as the “key components”. But let’s remember that the “Key Components” are not the grail, but commonsense ideas about what worked for drug courts in 1997. EBP will require a willingness to learn new ways of doing our job. That means training and education. For some, it’s just too much work. But isn’t it worth the effort to create reentry courts (and other problem-solving courts), using scientifically proven guidelines or “Evidence Based Practices”  that will do what we started out to do in 1997; to better reduce drug abuse and recidivism in our communities.


Systemic Approaches to Sentencing: Part 9

May 28, 2012

Evidence-Based Sentencing Systems are Cost-Effective: Part 9

The previous eight articles in this series are testimony to the potential of evidence based sentencing systems. Scientific and technological advances now make these systems cost-effective as well. The most cost intensive aspect of any evidence-based system are the court hearings for felons sentenced to local custody and/or supervision. There is a misconception, that in an evidence-based sentencing system, all felons would be seen in court on a regular basis (as most problem-solving courts tend to do). But science and technology has provided us with strategies and solutions that allow us to substantially reduce the need for additional court sessions and staff (the “Risk Principle”).

Validated risk/needs assessment tools developed over the past ten years allow us to determine a felon’s risk levels and how to best deal with the offender ( see “University of Cincinnatti Study on Risk Principle”) We now know that intensive supervision for low to medium risk offender (involving multiple appearances before the court) actually increases their levels of recidivism. In some jurisdictions, that understanding may actually reduce the total number of court appearances, as only those who have been determined to need intensive supervision and court monitoring would receive it. Felons who are traditionally “banked” as low-risk probationers would almost certainly be excluded. Those offenders who are considered medium risk offenders might be seen by the court on a very limited basis (perhaps one court appearance after beginning their jail sentence, with a second at the start of active probation supervision and a third at the completion of successful probation supervision). Depending on criminal background, history of violence, extent of imprisonment and other relevant factors, high-risk felons would be placed in an appropriate supervision and court monitoring track. (see video at bottom of article, for interview with Reentry Court judge Jeff Tauber, on the intensity of supervision and rehabilitative track required by serious and/or violent high risk parole violators)

A more universal fiscal concern relates to the over-staffing of problem-solving courts. The fact that many courts have more than a dozen employees attending staff meetings and court sessions is a major financial obstacle to the expansion of evidence-based sentencing systems (and other problem solving courts as well).  My experience as both a drug court and reentry court judge suggests problem-solving courts are often over-staffed ( see: A Minimalist Reentry Court for Recessionary Times). My Drug Court staffings in 1990 (admittedly a long time ago) had two persons present, the probation officer personally responsible for offenders to be reviewed, and myself. In a more recent experience on the Bench (2010-2011) , the San Francisco Parole Reentry Court operated with a staff of five; judge, program coordinator, case manager, defense attorney, and parole officer. It should be acknowledged that every problem-solving court has its own staffing requirements,  but the tools described above can also help keep court personnel to a minimum. The development of risk/needs assessment tools allows us to better categorize probation/parole offenders, placing them in customized court tracks, limiting the court time of program specialists, to sessions where their skills are truly needed. Similarly, technology allows us to share information and communications between program personnel and staff, limiting  the need for those present in court.

Finally, even problem-solving courts with significant operating cost, have shown themselves to be cost-effective (see California Study), substantially reducing custody and other criminal justice costs, and providing enormous savings to the community as a whole. This will undoubtedly be the case for evidence-based sentencing systems as well.

 

If your ‘re in Nashville this Week, Come on by and say hello……….

May 21, 2012

I’d like to invite those of you planning on coming to NADCP’s Nasville conference this week, to join me and my colleagues presenting at the Reentry Court Training and Workshops.

I’ll be leading a wonderful group of presenters from Akron and Dallas in a three hour training on Front-End Reentry Courts (Early Intervention courts)  on Wednesday May 30th from 9:00AM to Noon (SB-1; Bayou C)]

And I’ll be moderating a panel session on Front-End Reentry courts that will be held on Thursday, May 31st, from 10:30 to 11:45. It will be Workshop A13: Governor’s Ballroom D, the first workshop of the conference.

Finally I’ll be presenting on Evidence-Based Sentencing Systems, the future of the Problem-Solving field on Friday, June 1st, from 4:30 to 5:45 in the afternoon, in Room F13; Governor’s Ballroom D. 

Note:  The June 1st session is described incorrectly in the broshure as being on “Commnity-Based Reentry Courts”; It will partially be on that topic, but mostly be devoted to the larger subject of “Evidence-Based Sentencing Systems” (the subject of a 12 segment series of articles on RCS)

Join in on our sessions or just come by and introduce yourself. 

San Francisco Reentry Court Start-Up

For someone who believed he had a basic understood of Reentry Court and its parolee participants, the last six months of planning and implementing the San Francisco Reentry Court have been something of a revelation. The parolees themselves have surprised me the most with their willingness to participate in court sessions and court-ordered programs (appearing for  better than 99% of weekly court appearances). While it’s far to early to analyze the limited data,  building a core community and an expanded team within the court program itself, and creating an environment where participants feel welcome and respected, appear to be  potential factors in explaining initial parolee participation.

JTauber

Reentry Courts beckon as Cal Prisoners return?

As California, and states across the nation, contemplate the return of non-serious offenders to local counties, it may be time to seriously consider the Community-Based alternative,  Reentry Court.

Newly re-elected Governor Jerry Brown has announced his intention of returning state prisoners to county jails. According to an article in the San Jose Mercury, “Under Brown’s plan, the state would stop housing 37,000 adult convicts each year who are short-timers, low-level offenders and parole violators. Those groups instead would be held in county jails at a cost some experts say could be half the current burden…This is just an incredibly massive shift for a state system that was sending everybody and their brother to prison,” said Joan Petersilia, a Stanford University criminal justice expert. Petersilia, who has worked with two gubernatorial administrations on the change, described it as “the most significant in California history.”

This news shouldn’t come as a surprise as similar plans have been put forward in the past. But this time, it appears that the governor’s plan has a great deal going for it. The extraordinary cost of keeping non-violent offenders in state prison, an astounding budget deficit pegged at $27 Billion, and the court case before the U.S. Supreme Court, that may force California to remove up to 40,000 prisoners from its over-crowded prisons.The question for many, is whether the state will provide the funds to counties to provide the necessary treatment and other services required to successfully reintegrate offenders into their communities.

Reentry Courts are seemingly new,and not on everyone’s mind, but they should be. The six California Counties participating in California’s Parole Reentry Court  Pilot Project, having recently begun operations, are showing unusual promise. Within the next six months, we should have a very good idea as to the efficacy of the reentry court model in handling those returning from prison. It’s time to pay attention to the reentry court, based on a drug court model, that has proven itself to be the only effective community-based program for high-risk offenders.

Obama Speaks Out On Need For Second Chance

A recent phone converesation between President Obama and Eagles Football Team  owner, Jeffrey Lurie, will hopefully focus attention on the need to fund the “Second Chance Act” and “reentry courts ” as a part of that legislation. According to Eagles Football Team  owner, Jeffrey Lurie, President Obama made a point of thanking Lurie for giving quarterback Michael Vick a  second chance after his conviction and imprisonment for a year and a half for running a dog fighting ring.

Obama’a statement in support of giving returning prisoners a second chance is symbolically important as we go into the new federal budget cycle. At this time, we have reason to believe that the Congress has only preliminarily funded the “Second Chance Act” for $50 million as opposed to the $100 million funded last year. There is also the potential that “reentry courts” will no be funded at the $10 million level they were last year, if  at all.

This was the gist of Obama’s statement, according to Lurie,  “’So many people who serve time never get a fair second chance. He was … passionate about it. He said it’s never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail. And he was happy that we did something on such a national stage that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall.”

There’s reason to believe that existing reentry courts are having an even greater impact on returing offendeers that drug courts have had on drug offenders. The research supports the supposition that high risk offenders (which include most offenders returning from prison) do far better in highly structured court programs such as reentry courts than those who are not high risk. It’s critical that those with access to the Congress and the Administration make a strong pitch to fund “reentry courts” in the next funding cycle, and at the same level as last year.

Prison stocks Down

Sept. 27th

This week, a Wall Street publication, “the Street”, described an unexpected weakness in privately owned prison stocks. Blaming the weakness on a reduction in both violent crime and a first time ever decline in prison populations nationwide (after an eight fold increase between 1972 and 2008), the article, “Jailhouse stocks slip as trends shift” projects continuing weakness in prison spending.


Reentry Court Literature Review

Alexandra Lampert, a former judicial fellow with the San Francisco Superior Court Collaborative Courts’ Program, and now attending Stanford Law School, has recently completed a literature  review on reentry courts.  It is informative, providing summaries of a number of articles and evaluations in the reentry court field [Reentry Court Scholarship and Evaluations]

Supreme Court to hear Cal Prison Case

The U.S. Supreme court has agreed to hear an appeal of  Schwarenegger v. Plata, where a three judge appellate panel found  California to be denying prisoners adequate medical and mental health care, in violation of the “cruel and unusual punishment” provision of the U.S. Constitution. The Appellate panel ordered the State of California to reduce its prison population (now at approximately 150,000) by 40,000 prisoners, by December, 2011 (AP story).

In a similar vein, another recent news story told the sad tale of state’s reducing and in some cases eliminating prison based drug and other treatment/rehabilitation based programs (AP story). One can only hope that these programs are being cut back because of states’ intent to release drug dependent offenders, to be provided treatment and rehabilitation services in their communities. As unlikely as that may be, it will be incumbent on all to be vigilant and proactive in maintaining and expanding treatment both inside and outside of state prison walls.

EXTRA/ Reentry Court RFP Webinar:Tuesday

EXTRA

The National Reentry Resource Center will conduct a free webinar, on Tuesday, May 18, from 12 to 1:30PM to help applicants respond to the Second Chance Act’s State, Local and Tribal Reentry Courts FY 2010 Competitive Grant Announcement, which was released on April 14, 2010, by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), and is due June 3, 2010.

Here’s your chance to learn about the grant application process from those most directly involved in it. Don’t miss this opportunity. To register for the Webinair with the National Reentry Resource Center, click here.

Ten Reasons to Build A Reentry Court in 2010

The Reentry Process is nothing new to the Drug Court Practitioner. Drug court has always been a reentry mechanism; a seamless process for returning the drug offender from arrest and criminal adjudication , through community-based rehabilitation and monitoring, to the offender’s reintegration into the community. What is different in 2010, is the immediate need to expand drug courts into next-generation comprehensive reentry/drug courts. Consider the following reasons to expand your drug court into a reentry/drug court in 2010:

1.       There has been a sesmic shift in the nation’s attitude toward imprisonment and prisons. The entire nation seems desperately focused on the prison problem, and its financial and social costs,  New, untested (or tested and failed) reentry systems are positioning themselves as reform champions and therefore, recipients of prison reform funding (leaving the courts out in many instances).

3.       The Drug Court has been tested, evaluated, and analyzed over the past twenty years on an unparalleled scale. The scientific community has concluded that the drug court provides the most effective means to rehabilitate, hold accountable, and reintegrate the “high risk”, non-violent, drug involved offender back into the community. ( Doug Marlowe: A Sober Assessment of Drug Court). Reentry courts are, in fact, Drug Court models.

4.      The federal government  appears to recognize the success of the Drug Court model, when they encourage programs providing “evidence-based practices”, such as the seamless transitioning from custody to community, and graduated sanctions and incentives. Drug courts in large part pioneered those practices.

5.       The “Second Chance Act”, and other federal and state initiatives specifically emphasize the need for community-based “task forces”, that work collaboratively in integrating the offender into the community and sharing resources and funding streams to make the process truly a community-wide effort. Most Drug Courts have been engaged in community-wide collaborations since their inception.

6.       Reentry/Drug courts represent the future of the drug court field; a next  generation, comprehensive drug court that works with “high-risk, non-violent, drug involved offenders. The Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA), have  endorsed drug court on four separate occasions, since 2000, as the lynchpin of future court systems, emphasizing their effectivenesss in dealing with issues such as “recidivism”. (see CCJ Resolution 22/COSCA Resolution 4)

7.       Rather than re-inventing the wheel, the nation’s Reentry Reform Movement can take advantage of over two thousand drug courts already in existence. The court-based mechanisms that insure accountability, the trained personnel, the structure and community relationships are already in place. Decision-makers, from drug court practitioners,  to state drug court coordinators, to policy makers in the judicial, legislative, and executive branches need to be made aware of this, evidence-based, scientifically proven and cost-effective alternative.

8.       Probation or Jail-Based Reentry Courts (sometimes called Pre-entry Courts) represent the simplest solution to prison-overcrowding and reentry issues. The best way to deal with jail-overcrowding and reentry issues, is not to sentence the non-violent, high-risk drug offenders to prison in the first place, but  place those who would otherwise go to prison, under state court and probation jurisdiction, in next-generation, comprehensive reentry/ drug courts (see Reentry/Drug Court Model)

7.       Although somewhat more problematic ( as jurisdiction typically lies with the executive branch), prison-based reentry courts are being piloted in many states. Relying on innovative structures such as split-sentencing, or collaborative  sentencing systems that engage the returning offender in a seamless transition into the community, they appear to be an effective means  to hold ex-prisoners accountable as they engage in the reintegration process. (see Ten Prison-Based Reentry Models)

9.      While federal funding for drug courts increased substantially this year, state and county funding is being cut back in many jurisdictions. Reentry funding  on the other hand is expanding rapidly. The “Second Chance Act” alone, increased its funding four-fold to $100 million plus over last year. With an almost zealous intensity, state and federal authorities are determined to reduce funding for prison and prisoners, while seemingly intent to increase funding for prison alternatives and  reentry reform at an  increasing rate in the coming years.

10.    The impact of drug courts have been limited to little more than 5% of drug-involved offenders. It’s time for drug courts and their practitioners to step up and assert their place in the reentry process ( and in “reentry task forces” being formed in their communities), as the proven, and most successful approach to the “high-risk”, non-violent, drug-involved offenders that populate our jails and prisons. The opportunity to do so may not come again.

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