Re-Entry: Building a Safer Community - Background Information

What is re-entry? 

Re-entry is a collaborative community process to support individuals being released from incarceration and transitioning back to the community so they may chart a new path toward becoming positive, productive citizens. This process evolves differently in every community, based upon the unique challenges and barriers individuals encounter and the local resources available to individuals. Most re-entry initiatives, however, involve:

(1)    Identifying the stakeholders in different systems (e.g., housing, employment, mental health/substance abuse services, social services, health care, law enforcement, the faith community, etc.);

(2)    Bringing stakeholders together to define the scope of the problem in terms of public awareness, policy issues, and service resource/capacity issues;

(3)    Understanding why released offenders are reoffending; and

(4)    Coordinating/targeting existing resources and developing new resources based on “what works” for individuals with particular profiles and needs.

Why focus on re-entry?

  • Re-entry is about public safety. Each year 13,000 state-responsible offenders in Virginia complete their sentences and return to communities. Over a three year period, more than 10,000 state-responsible offenders in Virginia are re-incarcerated, either because they have committed new crimes or because they have not complied with the conditions of their probation or parole supervision. This number represents new victims; higher taxpayer costs associated with police and court processes and re-incarceration; unsupported families on public assistance and other negative social implications. [Source: Virginia Prisoner and Juvenile Offender Re-Entry Council Report, 2010 Acrobat PDF file]
  • Re-entry is about employment. Having a job is a major predictor of a former prisoner’s ability to stay crime free. Incarceration reduces annual employment by more than two months and reduces yearly earnings by 40 percent. [Source: The Pew Charitable Trusts – Collateral Costs: Incarceration’s Effect on Economic Mobility, 2010 Acrobat PDF file]
  • Re-entry is about housing. Homelessness is linked to a higher risk for incarceration, and incarceration contributes to an increased risk of homelessness. Studies of the homeless population show, on average, 18% have served time behind bars. [Source: University of Pennsylvania – Homeless Shelter Use and Reincarceration Following Prison Release, Jan. 2004]
  • Re-entry is about behavioral health. Nearly two thirds of people in prison meet criteria for substance abuse or dependence and 24% of individuals in State prisons have a recent history of mental illness. Only a fraction of those identified receive the treatment they need. The lack of treatment continues and worsens as individuals reenter the community. [Sources: Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics – Drug Use and Dependence, State and Federal Prisoners, 2004, and Mental Health Problems of Prison and Jail Inmates, Sept. 2006; and Urban Institute Justice Policy Center – Health and Prisoner Reentry: How Physical, Mental, and Substance Abuse Conditions Shape the Process of Reintegration, Feb. 2008 Acrobat PDF file]
  • Re-entry is about public health. Those released from prisons and jails constitute a substantial share of the U.S. population with communicable diseases. Addressing these health issues, such as Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, are a major public health opportunity. [Source: Crime & Delinquency – Health-Related Issues in Prisoner Reentry, July 2001 Acrobat PDF file]
  • Re-entry is about education. Almost twice as many adult prisoners (37%) have less than a high school diploma or equivalent when compared to the general population (19%). Only 22% of adult prisoners have any postsecondary education, compared to 51% of the general population. [Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Dept. of Education – Literacy Behind Bars: Results From the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy Prison Survey, May 2007 Acrobat PDF file]

What is the Fairfax Re-entry Council?

The Fairfax Re-Entry Council is an interagency, public-private partnership that aims to increase public safety and reduce recidivism of citizens recently released from incarceration through more effective reentry planning and service delivery in the community. Established under the Virginia Community Reentry Initiative, the Council has representatives from the local department of social services, community organizations, law enforcement, corrections, faith-based organizations, and community members.

Re-entry planning is a new approach in Fairfax County to addressing the needs of individuals released from incarceration and returning to our community. The process involves the participation of many stakeholders to support returning citizens, which in turn builds safer communities.

The Council’s Seminar for the Public, “Re-entry:  Building a Safer Community”

The Council invites you to attend its inaugural seminar “Re-entry: Building a Safer Community,” at the Government Center on September 19, 2013 from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

The seminar will introduce the concept of re-entry of formerly incarcerated persons to our community, illustrate how other localities have made it work successfully, and explore what we can do in Fairfax County to develop the concept more fully here. Highlights include:

  • Representative from the Office of the Governor who will introduce Virginia’s Community Reentry Initiative,
  • Keynote speaker Mouly Aloumouati who will tell the story of the re-entry journey and what it means for individuals and the community
  • Breakout sessions on re-entry strategies in housing, employment and community supports, and
  • Panel presentation describing the role of landlords, employers, law enforcement, individuals and families in re-entry successes, challenges and opportunities

Register for the seminar online. The registration deadline is September 16, 2013. If you have any questions or require a special accommodation, please contact registration coordinator Jeannie Cummins at 703-324-7006 (TTY 711).

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