Department of Justice Announces New Reforms to Strengthen the Federal Bureau of Prisons
Attorney General Lynch Releases Roadmap to Reentry: The Justice Department’s Vision to Reduce Recidivism through Federal Reentry Reforms
As part of National Reentry Week, Attorney General Lynch today in Philadelphia announced the “Roadmap to Reentry,” the Department’s comprehensive vision to reduce recidivism through reentry reforms at the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). These efforts will help those who have paid their debt to society prepare for substantive opportunities beyond the prison gates, promote family unity, contribute to the health of our economy, advance public safety and sustain the strength of our communities.
Each year, more than 600,000 citizens return to our neighborhoods after serving time in federal and state prisons. Another 11.4 million individuals cycle through local jails. And nearly one in three Americans of working age have had some sort of encounter with the criminal justice system — mostly for relatively minor, non-violent offenses, and sometimes from decades in the past. The long-term impact of a criminal record prevents many people from obtaining employment, housing, higher education, and credit — and these barriers affect returning individuals even if they have turned their lives around and are unlikely to reoffend.
The principles outlined in the “Roadmap to Reentry” are aligned with the work of the Federal Interagency Reentry Council which has been working since its creation five years ago to reduce recidivism and improve employment, education, housing, health and child welfare outcomes.
PRINCIPLES TO REDUCE RECIDIVISM THROUGH REENTRY REFORMS AT THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS
Upon incarceration, every inmate should be provided an individualized reentry plan tailored to his or her risk of recidivism and programmatic needs.
The Department is enhancing BOP’s risk and needs assessment tools to inform development of reentry plans tailored to the specific criminogenic needs of each incarcerated individual.
While incarcerated, each inmate should be provided education, employment training, life skills, substance abuse, mental health, and other programs that target their criminogenic needs and maximize their likelihood of success upon release.
The Department, through BOP, has launched an effort to assess its education programs, life skills programs, and job skills programs to ensure these programs are evidence-based and targeted to the criminogenic needs of inmates.
While incarcerated, each inmate should be provided the resources and opportunity to build and maintain family relationships, strengthening the support system available to them upon release.
The Department is enhancing the number and types of opportunities available for people in federal prisons to strengthen family relationships during their term of incarceration.
During transition back to the community, halfway houses and supervised release programs should ensure individualized continuity of care for returning citizens.
In order to ensure that Residential Reentry Centers (RRC) are fulfilling their vital role in the reentry process, the Department, with assistance from outside consultants, is undertaking a robust evaluation and assessment of the RRC experience to develop a specific plan for implementing improvements to the existing RRC model that will provide residents enhanced reentry support and reduce recidivism.
Before leaving custody, every person should be provided comprehensive reentry-related information and access to resources necessary to succeed in the community.
The Department is developing reentry-specific tools and support services to help returning citizens succeed after leaving federal custody.
As part of the national effort to increase awareness about these challenges, the Attorney General also sent a letter to governors with a request to permit citizens returning to their communities to exchange their Bureau of Prisons inmate identification card and authenticated release documentation for state identification, or for these documents to satisfy the primary identification document requirement for state-issued identification. Without government-issued identification, men and women leaving correctional facilities face extreme challenges securing employment and housing, registering for school, opening bank accounts as well as accessing other benefits, such as health care, that are critical to successful reintegration.
Leadership from across the Administration will be traveling around the country to make policy announcements in support of National Reentry Week. They will also be encouraging federal partners and grantees to work closely with stakeholders like federal defenders, legal aid providers and other partners across the country to increase the impact of these efforts. National Reentry Week events are being planned in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. U.S. Attorney’s Offices alone are hosting over 200 events and BOP facilities are holding over 370 events.