State Prison Reentry Court RFP Needs State Leadership

june 10th

I submit  that whatever the intent of BJA’a Reentry Court RFP, a state prison based reentry court  is not a workable structure without the full support and collaboration 0f the State Supreme Court and its executive arm, the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). In reality, such a reentry court  is not viable without the full support and collaboration of the state criminal justice and political leadership. That doesn’t mean that a local jurisdiction can’t apply for and be awarded a grant, but that a state parole/corrections based reentry court (as opposed to a county-based jail/probation reentry court), needs to partner with the state to be successful.

The analysis is simple: State’s are overwhemingly responsible for the control of offenders, post prison. To that end, state-wide jurisdiction is typically granted to state parole/probation agencies to oversee offenders returning to the community. In most state’s it’s called the state-wide Parole and/or Probation Agency. Traditonally, counties had little or no jurisdiciton once the offender was sentenced to state prison.  This isn’t so for any other problem-solving court. Drug, mental health,  DUI, and other problem-solving courts are often started by  local jurisdictions, sometimes without the knowledge of the state judicial or political leadership (although state collaboration and support is becoming more and more critical)

Times have changed. We’ve looked at the data and realized that a  state-wide correctional authority alone, may be too narrowly focused, and that a broader collaborative approach to the returning offender may be more successful and cost-effective. The reentry court is one such model that is being widely investigated as a new path for the returnee. But it can’t succeed without the State Supreme Court, Correctional Authority, Probation/Parole Agency, and the legislature’s collective planning, collaboration and funding. (see: Ten Prison-Based Reentry Court Models).

This RFP  is for those of you in your state government’s crimial justice leadership: It will take your good will and support of a state prison based reentry court application, and yes, your initiative to make an acceptable application under this RFP, truely successful (see article below; “ California Courts Gird for New Parole Role“)

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