"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

$15 Million for Non-Profit Organizations’ Reentry Mentoring

‘The Bureau of Justice Assistance has released an RFP to non-profit organizations for mentoring projects, under the “Second Chance Act” mission, of ” providing services and programs to facilitate inmates’ successful reintegration into society”.  BJA will make $15 million available to non-profit organizations for up to $300,000 per grant for a period of up to 24 months. No matching is required but 25%  in-kind contributions are encouraged.

The application deadline is March 18,2010.

Each proposal must include the following program components:

  1. Mentoring offenders during incarceration, through transition back to the community, and post-release.
  2. Transitional services to assist in the reintegration of offenders into the community.
  3. Training regarding offender and victims issues.

Click here for the application: “Second Chance Act Mentoring Grants to Non-Profit Organizations”

Reentry Court Note: These funds should be available to reentry court partners in the non-profit community

NCCD: Prison and Jail Alternatives Could Save Nation $10 Billion

In a publication issued on January 10, the National Council of Crime and Delinquency  found that,”as a nation, we can save an estimated $9.7 billion dollars as an initial installment on ongoing and significant annual savings by changing how we handle a portion of the lowest-level offenders in our systems. As of 2008, there were 413,693 men and women incarcerated for nonviolent, nonsexual crimes that don’t involve significant property loss. The vast majority of these could be eligible for effective and cost-saving sanctions such as drug courts, electronic monitoring, or work release programs.” Click here for NCCD document, The Extravagance of Prison Revisited.

California’s Conflict with Federal Courts Shines A Light On Prisons

California’s prison dilemma is perhaps the most severe in the nation. Critics claim that twice as many prisoners are crammed into the state’s prison as is acceptable. A federal judicial panel has agreed with that assessment and demanded that the state come up with a plan to release 40,000 inmates over the next two years, as a necessary step in solving the problem of inadequate medical and mental health services.

Last week, the judges accepted  Governor Schwarzenegger’s offer to resolve the conflict (previously rejected by the legislature), but the judges postponed the effective date of their order pending U.S. Supreme Court consideration of it. Among other provisions, the governor’s plan would, allow some prisoners to be transferred to county jail, reduce penalties for some property thefts, allow expanded home detention, and in a more recent proposal (highlighted in his state of the state speech) transfer prisoners to privately run prisons (Details of Court Decision)

Without getting into the minutia of California’s prison disaster, it is instructive to the nation, and  points to an overwhelming need to take a fresh look at how we sentence, incarcerate, and release inmates from our jails and prisons. In California, there is $45 million dollars alone, available through Federal Cal EMA funding (largely federal stimulus funds), to explore ways to use probation based courts to keep offenders out of prison in the first place, and an additional $10 million available to investigate ways the courts can, for the first time, be part of the prison reentry process. These funds are clearly the tip of the iceberg, with $100 million in “Second Chance Act” funds and perhaps another $300 million in federal funds available nationwide (and that’s likely only the beginning of the reentry funding stream). Clearly, these are extraordinary times that offer both probation and prison-based reentry courts once in a life time opportunities, to provide innovative alternatives to failed prison policies.

California Leads with $10 Million in Reentry Court Funding

California has committed itself to  the largest prison-based reentry  demonstration project in the nation’s history. The RFP  released today through the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) provides $10 million in Federal stimulus funds for the Parolee Reentry Court Program to be administered by the California Administrative Office of the Courts.

The Parole Reentry Court Program, will provide between $1 and 1.5 million for two and one half years for up to seven prison-based reentry courts.  The demonstration grants will be open to jurisdictions that have well defined and implemented drug and mental health courts. Priority will be given to jurisdictions serving large numbers of  parolees and those with higher risks of recidivating.

For California, with its overwhelming prison overcrowding and reentry problems, this project marks a remarkable change from business as usual. For the first time, ex-prisoners  will be under the jurisdiction of the California Courts. While the Corrections Agency will decide who is elligible for the program,  once a prisoner is assigned to a Parolee Reentry Court, the reentry court judge and team ( with the assistance of a team based parole officer) will have final say  until termination from the program.

Of Note: the program requires no matching funds from the court or local jurisdicition and retired judges may be contracted to preside over the reentry court.

Applications must be filed by March 1st. (For more information, see: Parolee Reentry Court Program)

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.

$20 Million SAMHSA/BJA Grant For Joint Drug Court Strategies

APPLICATION DUE DATE:  All applications are due by 8:00 p.m. eastern time on February 11, 2010.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration ( SAMHSA ), Center for Substance Abuse Treatment ( CSAT ), in collaboration with U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs ( OJP ), Bureau of Justice Assistance ( BJA ), is accepting applications for FY 2010 grants to enhance the court services, coordination, and substance abuse treatment capacity of adult drug courts. The purpose of this joint initiative is to invite applicants to submit for consideration one comprehensive strategy for enhancing drug court capacity, allowing applicants to compete for access to both criminal justice and substance abuse treatment funds with one application. This effort is a unique opportunity for demonstrating effective ways of weaving federal funding sources to create comprehensive service approaches – in this case a system of a comprehensive support in an Adult Drug Court setting.

Under this program, grantees will receive two separate awards; BJA will fund the drug court component and CSAT will fund the substance abuse treatment component. A total of up to 31 grant awards of up to $625,000 ( $325,000 in SAMHSA substance abuse treatment funding and a one-time $300,000 in BJA drug court grant ) will be made to each grantee in FY 2010. Thereafter, SAMHSA will make annual awards, up to $325,000, per grantee for each of the remaining two years of the grant period.  The annual SAMHSA continuation awards will depend on the availability of funds, grantee progress in meeting project goals and objectives, timely submission of required data and reports, and compliance with all terms and conditions of award. [BJA/SAMHSA application]

Reentry Court Note: Funding for drug courts should be available for probation or jail based reentry courts.

Fed “Second Chance Act” Funding: $37 Million for Reentry Demos

The DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance  (BJA) released it’s RFP under Sec.101 of the “Second Chance Act”, providing $37 million in funding for Adult and Juvenile Reentry Demonstation Grants on December 22nd, (with an application deadline of March 4, 2010). We can expect more grants to come on line in the coming weeks and months. This year alone, funding under the “Second Chance Act” has increased nearly 400% to $100 million.

Dr. Gary L. Dennis, Senior Policy Advisor for Corrections, at BJA (and administrator of the “Second Chance Act”), advises  that  reentry courts are elligible as applicants for 2010 Reentry Demonstartion Grants. Even so, it may be prudent for reentry courts to accesss critical resources through government agency partners that may be more attractive applicants to BJA; such as  jails, prisons, probation, parole and rehabilitation services (remember that the 2010 “Second Chance Act” provides $10 million for reentry courts alone).

Don’t forget grant applicability to jail-based reentry courts or pre-entry courts

The  recently enacted “Second Chance Act” and other federal reentry legislation recognize the critical importance of keeping the non-violent offender out of prison in the first place. Whether called reentry/drug court, pre-entry court, or jail-based reentry court; a probation-based reentry court that places sentenced felons in custodial programs rather than prison, may access Sec.101 reentry demonstration project funds. [see Reentry/Drug Court Model]

Key Criteria For Reentry Demonstration Project funding:

1. Applicants are limited to state and local government agencies

2. Each grantee must have an active “task force” representing diverse community interests.

3. Applicants must provide description of the role of corrections agencies in reentry

4. Applicants must have a comprehensive, long-term reentry strategy

5. Applicants must provide information on how outcomes will be monitored and tracked

6. Priority  is given to applicants focused on areas with large numbers of returnees

7. Priority given to applicants providing effective case management in reentry processes.

8. Priority is given to applicants using graduated sanctions and Incentives as conditions of release or probation

[see BJA’s Complete Reentry Demomonstration Project Application/Critereia]

$10 Million Reentry Court Funding Passes Congress

EXTRA/EXTRA

On Decemeber 13th, Congress appropriated $10 million dollars for Reentry Courts under “Section 111” of the Second Chance Act.  In all, a total of $100 was appropriated under the  “Second Chance Act”.  Additionally the Department of Justice (DOJ)  provided $14 million for reentry initiatives within the Federal Bureau of  Prisons, and the Department of Labor earmarked $108 million for work/training related services. (see Reentry Policy Council press release)

“Second Chance  Act” funding is up four-fold from a year ago.   It should be noted that reentry courts and their community partners may be able to appropriately access far more than the funds made specifically available to “reentry courts”. Much of that money will be available to community based coalitions made up of government, non-profit, and  other community organizations. There may be more than $300 million available during fiscal year 2010 for community-based  coalitons that have a reentry  court as one of its partners.


Pre-entry Courts in the Age of Reentry

Pre-Entry Court is a county probation-based reentry court and an advanced next generation drug court, . Typically, non-violent drug offenders are placed on  probation, with a state prison sentence suspended, and the offender ordered to attend, participate, and complete an in-custody treatment program as a condition of probation ( for those legally inclined, “execution of sentence is suspended”).  In essence, rather than dealing with the  offender after they serve a prison term (with all its dibilitating consequences) they are given their last best opportunity to enter a “pre-entry court” (or a “before entry to  prison court”) and avoid a formal prison commitment.

For example,  County Jail-Based Reentry Courts offer the possibility of reducing state prison populations with their extraordinary costs,while providing the serious non-violent offender, the  seamless  monitoring, treatment, and rehabilitative services of  a comprehensive drug court.  (It can be confusing at first, to realize that there are two kinds of reentry courts, one dealing with prison reentry, the other with those returning from extended jail or other probation-based custodial programs.)

Optimally, Pre-entry Courts (typically county-jail based reentry courts)  engage the offender at the time of plea and assessment through sentencing, entry into, and completion from an in-custody rehabilitation program. When released from custodial status into the community, the pre-entry court judge and team continue to monitor the probationer through progress hearings and finally program graduation.

Ultimately, a pre-entry court will be part of a Next Generation Drug Court System, providing comprehensive drug court services  to returnees from jail, other county-based custodial programs,  probation revocations, prison (and more traditional drug court participants, who typically do not receieve  an immediate custodial sentence). The emergence of fledgling  pre-entry courts, while focused mostly on those with substance abuse problems, is an important development in criminal justice reform, and arguably the best way to reduce both prison over-crowding and prison reentry failure, whether offenders are drug involved or not. [for a unique example of a pre-entry court, see Dallas SAFPF Reentry Court]


Celebrating A Decade: How Reentry/Drug Court Got Here

Anyone at all aware of criminal justice issues, knows that 2010 will be the beginning of a seismic change in the criminal justice system. There is immense national concern about prison overcrowding, prisoner reentry into the community, and the need to cut funding to prisons. Your Drug Court should already be a part of  your community’s  2010 “reentry task force. Federal and state funding is pouring into reentry processes, and Drug Court stands on the precipice of becoming the next generation comprehensive Drug Court, the Reentry/Drug Court. At the the 10 year Anniversary of the CCJ Resolution22/COSCA Resolution IV , it might be well to remember the people, organizations,  and historical  documents that are making this impossible dream possible.

It wasn’t necessarily going to work out this way. The Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) weren’t terribly fond of special courts. They had a bad rap for consuming resources and creating judicial fiefdoms. When Drug Court came along twenty yeas ago, there was scepticism and even hostility from state bureaucracies and territorial paranoia from some drug court judges. But then it began to turn around. By the time the Clinton Administration had come on board, CCJ, COSCA and their partner, The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) had changed course and begun an effort to work with and provide guidance to the drug court field. Califronia, Florida and New York led the way, with limited financial, educational and technical assistance. But most states stood on the sidelines, reluctant to take a chance on the new kid on the block.

It wasn’t until 1999 that things really began to change. California’s  State Court Administrator, Bill Vickrey, the newly installed President of COSCA, had shown a willingness to work with drug court practitioners in his own state; resourcing educational conferences and trainings, finding financial support to start over 100 California Drug Courts, and encouraging Drug Court Judges to take the lead in developing a powerful statewide grassroots movement. Dan Becker, then Utah’s State Court Administrator, co-chair of the CCJ/COSCA Drug Court task force, put it  this way  in a 2001 interview , “It started with an initiative by Bill Vickery, when he was the President of COSCA, to begin looking at emerging policy questions that Administrators and Chief Justices need to be concerned about, that put us in the position of anticipating issues rather than reacting to new issues.” Bill Vickrey and California Chief Justice Ron George (as well as others) took the lead in advocating for a joint CCJ/COSCA Resolution endorsing drug courts and the newly emerging courts to be known as problem-solving courts. What is truely extraordinary was the fact that all 50 Chief Justices and all 50 State Court Administrators went on to unanimously adopt that joint resolution.

In the 10 years since the “Resolution”was adopted, a new dynamic has been created within the criminal justice system. With the highest level of state court administration committed to the problem-solving model, drug courts and its progeny have enjoyed a ligitimacy that has translated into increased funding, political influence and respect that had eluded them in the past.  Recently,  The National Association of Drug Court Professionals elected Missouri Chief Justice Ray Price as its Board President, while  a 2009 CCJ/COSCA Resolution reaffirmed its endorsement of drug courts, calling for  the federal government to fund drug courts at the $250 million level. There are Drug Courts in every state,  state program coordinators almost everywhere, and new problem-solving courts proliferating. Significantly, the California legislature has recently passed a “Parolee Reentry Court Program”, the biggest and most ambitious reentry/drug court project ever, funded with $10 million, to be administered by the California Administrative Office of the Courts. We should take this opportunity at the start of the new year to reflect on what has been accomplished over the past ten years, before we move on to the next-generation, comprehensive drug court, the reentry/drug court model.

NADCP Introduces Resource Center: “Reentry Court Solutions”

The National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) made this important announcement in an email yesterday to thousands of its drug court and  related practitioners/subscribers. “Designed to provide critical information to those interested in effective Reentry Court strategies, Reentry Court Solutions is a new national resource center dedicated to all things Reentry Courts.”  Judge Jeffrey Tauber (ret.), Director of “Reentry Court Solutions” described his satisfaction with the the Resource Center’s first days. “I would like to thank NADCP for their collaboration and support in getting “Reentry Court Solutions” off the ground. We’ve had hundreds of contacts from all over the country and across the world. I believe that the launching of a “National Reentry Court Resource Center” marks the beginning of a new focus on the importance of the reentry court model in the criminal justice system”.

Conference of Chief Justices Urge Funding For Drug Courts

The Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ)  and the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) have recently called for greatly increased federal funding for drug courts.  At their Annual meeting in August, 2009, Resolution No.3 passed unanimously , reaffirming support for drug and problem-solving courts and calling for passage of  NADCP’s $250 million appropriations request then be considered by the Congress. Interestingly, CCJ Resolution No.3 once again specifically states that ” drug courts have proven to be the most effective strategy for reducing drug use and criminal recidivism among criminal offenders with substance abuse and addiction….”. That statement (appearing verbatim in the 2000 resolution) would appear to  support the position that reentry courts (the next generation of drug court), needs to receive substantial federal funding as well.

For the language of CCJ Resolution No.3  go to: Resolution 3

Also see CCJ/COSCA Resolution 22 ( passed unanimously in 2000)

CSAT Reentry Funding

BREAKING NEWS: NOV.2, 2009

A $13 million grant program was announced by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment today. The grant’s purpose is to support 17  Juvenile and Adult Offender Reentry Programs across the nation. The funds appear to be aimed at persons leaving correctional settings, although not necessarily focused on reentry drug court as a grantee partner ( neither do they appear to exclude them.)

Further information can be found at: CSAT REENTRY GRANT

Funding Alert: California

NOV.3,2009: BREAKING NEWS

An extraordinary development for  California reentry court programs has come to our attention. The legislature has  targeted both stimulus money and and other federal and state funds to reduce reliance on prisons through four innovative programs:

  • 10 million dollars of federal  funds will  be distributed through a Parolee Reentry Accountability Program to support reentry courts.
  • $45 million of Federal funds will be distributed in support of evidence based supervision of felony offenders.
  • An undisclosed amount of funds resulting from savings in reduced felony revocation and recidivism rates will be allocated to probation  departments based on their success in reducing recidivism.
  • Under the California Risk Assessment Pilot Project, recidivism and revocations will be tracked over a three year period

This exemplary state effort will be under the direction of Adminisrative Office of the Courts Director Bill Vickrey and its program coordinator will be Judge Roger Warren (ret.), former President of the Natuional Center for State Courts.

Additional Information will be provided as it becomes available.

Spotlight on Missouri

Missouri is one the few truely innovative states in the reentry court field, with both prison and jail based reentry courts (also called reintegration courts). According to Missouri Director of Probation Services, Scott Johnson,  a single state agency that handles both probation and parole functions makes political and resource decisions less problematic. [According to Scott, over half the states have adopted a combined probation/parole state agency structure in recent years; a critical structure for your consideration]

Two programs provide split sentencing for prisoners. The first provides a four month prison term for drug abusers, requiring them to engage in a serious treatment program in prison before they are released to reentry courts and probation supervision. The second split sentence program allows all elligible offenders with a 5 years or greater sentence to be placed in a two year prison treatment program, to be released to reentry courts after that period.

The three formal pilot programs are in Kansas City, Columbia, and St.Charles. Other counties have begun to pilot reentry courts  on a less formal basis..

St. Charles County has an innovative program targeting all offenders eligible for probation, who would otherwise be sent to state prison. It is funded by the Department of Probation and Parole, and uses participant baseline data to confirm required reductions in prison sentences .  The program itself sentences offenders to treatment in jail, with in-custody offenders supervised by the drug/reentry court judge and personnel. Participants are typically released from custody within several weeks of placement and given the opportunity to be part of the out-of-custody program under the same court’s monitoring.

Missouri contact: Rick Morrisey; [email protected]  

 

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