"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

Columbia Reentry Court:A Probation-Based Reentry Court

The Boone county reentry court model has a split sentence structure that relies upon probation, rather than parole, to provide services and monitoring. Those sent to prison, receive treatment during an initial four month prison term and are returned to the reentry court for continued treatment, rehabilitation and monitoring. Approimately 80 returnees are part of the progam at any time.

Judge Chris Carpenter attributes the program’s documented success to a level of accountabilty and structure that touches the participant even before they leave prison. A returning offender is interviewed by the reentry court coordinator before leaving prison, released from prison on Tuesdays only, transported for an extensive interview and assessments with  the coordinator on Wednesdays, and transported to court on Thursday for the offenders first reentry court hearing. During this period, the offender is in held at “Reality House”, a secure facility, and only released after court and upon the judge’s order.

 Though Judge Carpenter also presides over drug and mental health courts, she believes that the seriousness of the returnees criminal history and criminal attitude require that they be separated from other problem-solving court participants. The reentry court team is made up of  judge,  program coordinator, probation officers, case managers, job training counselors, and treatment specialists.  Of interest; even though this is a county probation-based program, prosecutor and defense counsel are not part of the reentry court, unless and until the participant is terminated from the program and a “probation revocation hearing” ordered (  see “Minimalist Reentry Court” ). Nor is this a voluntary program. Everyone sentenced under the split sentencing statute who returns to the community after four months (many who have been sentenced to substantial prison terms), enters reentry court, signs a contingency contract, and is a participant in the program. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Columbia reentry court, is that it is part of a seamless rehabilitation process, whose dimensions and consequences  are known to all, even before a plea is enterred into.

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