New Workshop Added: “Systemic Approaches To Sentencing”

A new Workshop has been added to the Reentry Court Workshop Track, from 4:30 to 5:45 on June 1st at the NADCP Conference in Nashville. The 6th and last workshop session. it will demonstrate how “Systemic Sentencing Approaches” create a seamless process that follows the sentenced offender from sentencing thorugh custody, to community supervision, reducing recidivism and court costs, while improving the court’s capacity to provide effective rehabilliation and monitoring.

The workshop will be presented by Judge Jeff Tauber (ret.), President Emeritus of NADCP. editor of Reentry Court Solutions, and  most recently, the judge in San Francisco’s Parole Reentry Court Demonstration Project.

[Note: the Workshop will be held in Room F13; Governor’s Ballroom D. The Workshop is incorrectly entitled,  “Using Court-Based Community to Build Successful Reentry Courts”]


“Second Chance” Solicitation for Statewide Recidivism Reduction

April 16, 2012

The Bureau if Justice Assistance (BJA) has announced a solicitation available to states interested in reducing statewide recidivism. This program will assist states in developing and implementing comprehensive plans to reduce statewide recidivism rates. Applicants must be state departments of corrections to be eligible and the deadline is May 21, 2012.

That is an important, though perhaps obvious point to make. Prison reform may be encouraged and supported by local jurisdictions, but significant changes can only come from the state and thorugh state policy makers. (Council of State Governments’ Reentry Resource Center information on this solicitation can be accessed by clicking on facimile on the left)

Second Chance Act Juvenile Offender Reentry Program Solicitation

April 2, 2012

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention,  of the U.S. Department of Justice, is offering a solicitation  for Second Chance Act grant applications to state and local governments and federally recognized Indian tribes for juvenile reentry demonstration projects. This funding is available to help jurisdictions plan and implement programs and strategies to reduce recidivism and ensure safe and successful reentry of juveniles released from prisons, jails, and juvenile detention facilities back to the community. The deadline for applications is May 14, 2012. (You can find out more by clicking on the “National Reentry Resource Center” webpage facimile on the left)

“Second Chance Act” Probation Solicitation Announced

Mar. 5, 2012

“The Second Chance Act” Solicitaition, entitled, “Smart Probation: Reducing Prison Populations, Saving Money, and Creating Safer Communities.” has been announced by the Bureau of Justice Programs (BJA), with a deadline for Applications of May, 21, 2012.

The solicitation itself is aimed at probation agencies and therefore are directly related to (and in many cases subordinate to) the courts. This is a solicitation that the courts ought to be involved in as partners with probation agencies. Note a separate “Second Chance Act” Solicitation, entitiled “Adult Offender Comprehensive Statewide Recidivism Reduction Demonstration Program” is aimed specifically at State Departments of Corrections, and less likely to invove the courts.

[To access the “Probation Solicitation” and learn more about its details; click on the National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC) facimile on left]



Yes; “Second Chance” Grants Are Available to Reentry Courts

Mar. 19, 2012

Three BJA “Second Chance Act” Demonstration Solicitations

If you’ve read the three “demonstration Grant” Solicitations under the “Second Chance Act, you’ll find little mention of the courts.  The funds referenced in last weeks article (“Three Second Chance Solicitations”), appear to primarily target state or local government agencies. That would appear to eliminate involvement of individual courts themselves (at least as to the “Planning and Demonstration Solicitation” where there is no reference to courts at all). But there’s no reason that an individual court  should not be a beneficiary, along with the rest of the community, from resources made available through the “Second Chance Act”.

Note the language in the Solicitation (Second Chance Act Adult Offender Reentry Program for Planning and Demonstration,  Projects; p.4)

“Within the context of this initiative, “reentry” is not envisioned to be a specific program, but rather a process that begins when the offender is first incarcerated (pre-release) and ends with the offender’s successful community reintegration (post-release), evidenced by lack of recidivism”.

There is little reason to believe that that language can be satisfactorily applied without the participation of the courts. The court sentences the offender to custody and has supervisory responsibilities for the returning offender in many cases (from jail and/or prison). So if you have a reentry court, or wish to involve your court in a community based reentry system in your locality, you have the right and even the obligation to do so.

Each Solicitation requires that the community develop a “Reentry Task Force comprised of relevant state, tribal, territorial, or local leaders and representatives of relevant agencies, service providers, nonprofit organizations, and other key stakeholders” (see Solicitation, p.5). With the understanding that the courts will not likely be the applicant nor the direct receiver of funds (at least as to “Planning and Demonstration Projects”), courts need to be “key stakeholders”, who benefit, along with the community, when resources are made available to felons under the court’s supervisory authority.


A County Jail Based Reentry Court Grant Application

June 9th

This is one of many articles  I’ve written on the 2011 “Second Chance Act” Reentry Court RFP, in an attempt to stir interest in a major funding opportunity involving community alternatives to prison. In this analysis,  I will review the Reentry Court RFP from the perspective of a  county -jail, probation-based reentry court applicant.

Typically, when one thinks of a reentry process, the focus is on state prisoners reentering society.  While this is clearly a critical issue, the possibility of keeping the offenders in the local community , and using a substantial jail term as a last resort to prison has not always received the focus it deserves. Creating an effective county jail-based reentry court program offers the possibility of reducing the state prison population with its extraordinary costs, keeping offenders local, while increasing public safety within a seamless and comprehensive jail-based reentry court system.

Note: This solicitation is open to offenders returning from jails as well as prisons.

The pressure is on to reduce prison population in states like California. Governor Jerry Brown has committed  his new administration to implementing a major sentencing realignment that will optimally send 30,000 state prisoners back to local communities and county court jurisdiction.  The potential for dealing with offenders at an early stage of the criminal justice process (potentially at Arraignment), allowing for the seamless transitioning from jail to community, providing judicial oversight and incentives, using the same reentry court team throughout, and providing critical rehabilitation services early on, is an important alternative to prison based reentry court (see: County Jail Based Reentry Courts, a Policy Paper). An additional benefit, is that the local jurisdiction can submit an application and proceed with their planned reentry court, even in states that don’t support state prison-based reentry courts.

It’s worth repeating, that an obvious way to deal with exploding prison populations and prisoner reentry failures is to refrain from sentencing non-violent offenders to prison in the first place.

SAMSHSA makes Reentry Court Funding Available

Breaking News: Grant Deadline:June 6th

$4.4 million will be made available under this grant, with up to $400 thousand made available to individual jurisdictions.

This new grant program combines the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) drug court and offender reentry treatment services programming and funding with its mental health diversion and systems transformation programming and funding.  The grant program is open to all criminal justice and family/child dependency courts, as well as reentry courts.

[It should be noted that there are elligibility requirements that limit the use of these funds to court programs that have been in existence at least one full year]

To learn more about this opportunity, you are encouraged to participate in the free webinar hosted by SAMHSA on Tuesday, April 26, from 3 to 5 p.m. EDT. CALL: 1-888-453-4221 (Access code 676520 and then press #) LOG INTO: htttps:// (Meeting number: 572 187 472 / password: samhsa)

Second Chance funding for Reentry Courts in Doubt

April 25th

Reflecting a reduction of 17% for all Department of Justice programs, the Second Chance  Act for 2011 has been reduced to  $ 83 Millon from the $100 million budgeted for the Act in 2010. There is no word yet, whether there will be new funding for “Reentry Courts” as there was in 2010, or even continuation funds for Reentry Court programs that were funded under 2010 programs.

Conservatives Latch onto Prison Reform

march 13th

The results are in, the ride over. The only thing that liberals and conservatives appear to agree on is prison reform. It’s hard to argue the issue when everyone has adopted one side of the argument. As commented on in this website many a time, everyone is for prison reform these days, with hardly a squeak from prison guard unions or District Attorneys’ offices. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times, “Conservatives latch onto prison reform” describes the depth of the adoption of criminal justice reform by conservative leaders and advocacy groups.

What that means to those who have fought for reform for a very long time, is that the stars are aligned in the heavens, and it’s time to push hard for real prison reform. That means, not only returning prisoners to their communities with alternative community-based sentences, but keeping offenders out of prison in the first place, with Pre-Entry Courts that provide an alternative to prison. Reentry courts, for returning high risk offenders, will clearly  be a part of that reform package.

Yes, it’s time to demand reform, but it must be effective reform. If we mess this up, we could be waiting a very long time before we have another oppotunity. Everyone seems to favor alternatives to prison, but little is said of what alternatives we speak, their efficacy, or cost-effectiveness. Our greatest fear shouldn’t be that we will send prisoners home to poorly funded prison alternatives and find they don’t work. One thing worse that underfunding prison alternatives, is building a criminal justice system on the rotting structure of the exisiting one. Clearly reform needs to be built from the ground up, rather than funding existing programs that have never proven their worth, or worse, been found to be counter-productive. Reform has to be built on sound scientific evidence, based on decades of unassailable research, and memorialized in such publications as the Center for Effective Public Policy’s “Implementing Evidence-Based Practices” (see Cont: Evidence Based Practices Point the Way).

President’s budget adds Reentry Court: Part I

Feb. 21st

Though many disputed the idea that federal funding for Reentry Court would survive the President’s initial  2012 budget, there it is; $5 million  for Reentry Courtsin the Department of Justice’s “Second Chance Act”. Though, in the scheme of things, not a lot of money ( and half of the $10 million allocated last year), it will continue funding of existing Reentry Court programs, and allow the expansion of Reentry Courts in exciting new ways. Most importantly, it is a statement that the Administration has not given up on Reentry courts as a model for prisoners returning to their communities.

It should be noted that there are literally dozens of states that are flailing around looking for some strategy that will allow substantial reductions in their prison populations. Reentry Courts, working with other important institutional and community partners, provides the focus necessary to integrate offenders back into the community while controlling their  criminal conduct. However, its important to note that reentry is a statewide problem, and cannot be addressed by local communities without the leadership, resources and committment of state political, judicial, and criminal justice officials. Any new federal Reentry Grant Program needs to be aimed at state government, rather than individual localities.

While it’s true that the pilot programs that are underway in a  dozen states have not been around long enough to  prove their effectiveness, drug courts have proven the effectiveness of the model in working with high-risk offenders (making up the great majority of those returning from prison). Where Reentry and other Problem-Solving Courts have missed their mark, is that they have not embraced evidence-based practices that have been  developed through nation-wide meta-analysis based research.

As a Reentry Court judge,  I am constantly reminded of the advances made in our knowledge, capabilities, and technology over the past ten years. It literally puts us on the brink of extraordinary change in the criminal justice system. All it takes is the willingness to break from the conventional, and the committment to apply what we know works (based on state of the art research) to our reentry populations. It can be done and the ride will be exhilarating.

[More on those advances next week]

Second Chance Act Reentry Court Solicitation


It’s unfortunate, but funding for Reentry Courts under the “Second Chance Act” appears to be in jeopardy.  Those in a position to know, claim that few grant applications were submitted last year for Reentry Court funding, and that there appears to be little interest in these grants this year

The federal governemnt and especially the Department of Justice owes it to local communities facing the return of state prisoners to fully explore what appears to be the substantial potential of the Reentry Court. Do a Google search and note the many states that are seriously considering the return of state prisoners to local venues ( often over the strenuous objection of local officials). It would be shortsighted to consider the return of state prisoners to their communities without fully exploring the capacity of “Reentry Court ” to make that transition responsible, cost-effective, and humane.

“Second Chance” Mentoring Grants Announced


On February 9, 2011, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), U.S. Department of Justice, released the solicitation for Second Chance Act mentoring grants to nonprofit organizations (Section 211). Funding under this section is available to help nonprofit organizations and federally recognized Indian tribes implement mentoring projects to promote the safe and successful reintegration into the community of adults who have been incarcerated. The deadline for applications is April 21, 2011.

To download the solicitation, click here.

To download the Frequently Asked Questions document about this solicitation, click here.

To help potential applicants respond to this solicitation, the National Reentry Resource Center will hold a free webinar on February 17, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. ET. Representatives from BJA will participate in the webinar, explaining the details of the solicitation and answering questions from applicants.

Administration announces Interagency Reentry Council

As reported in the National Reentry Resource Center’s Newsletter, Attorney General Eric Holder convened the inaugural meeting of the Interagency Reentry Council last week. “Attending the Cabinet-level meeting were the secretaries of Labor, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, and the Interior; as well as the heads of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Social Security Administration, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the White House Domestic Policy Council, and the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships”.

Interestingly, last week, the likes of Newt Gringrich and Pat Nolan, right wing conservatives, were making their positions known in a Op-ED piece in the Washington Post,  favoring prison reform and reentry strategies not necessarily unlike, those of the Interagency Reentry Council.  As discussed here in the past, there is a confluence of interest across the nation (and around the world) favoring prison reform. Unfortunately it is not a movement always born of concern for the prisoners and their needs, but  one focused on the cost of keeping prisons open and  keeping prisoners in prison (when recidivism remains above 50% within three years of release).

Nevermind. It matters little how we got here, but what we’re able to do to further the agenda of real prison reform, focusing on getting the prisoner back to the community where rehabilitation is possible and where reintegration into the community is a critical necessity. Pay close attention to how the politicians work this issue and make sure that the interests of the prisoner and the community are not lost in translation.

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.

Reentry Courts: After the Midterms

Nov. 7,2010

Ted Gest, writing in the “Crime Report, on the prospects for continued federal funding for reentry programs such as reentry courts , provides an insiders look at funding issues in the new Congress (“After the Midterms”). He appears to be of the opinion that the Republican chairmen slated to take charge of committees responsible for criminal justice funding, are not likely to radically reduce funding for reentry programs. This is obviously an issue we all want to watch carefully and be prepared to weigh in on, with support for the “Second Chance Act and reentry court funding, specifically.

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