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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Colorado

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Federal, State And Tribal Officials Hold Summit And Tribal Consultation To Discuss Offender Re-Entry And Develop Strategies To Reduce Recidivism And Promote Public Safety

Click here for picture number 1 from Summit

Click here for picture number 2 from Summit

DENVER – On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney John Walsh, joined by five members of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Council, as well as representatives from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, local social workers, health services, victim advocates, Federal Probation, the Federal Public Defender’s Office and a U.S. Magistrate Judge held an Offender Reentry Summit and Tribal Consultation in Towoac on the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation.  The purpose of the Summit and Consultation was to seek Tribal input and guidance regarding potential re-entry and re-integration programs for offenders returning to the Tribal Community from prison.  Specifically, the group worked to develop strategies to reduce recidivism and the crime associated with recidivism.  Approximately 30 people attended the day-long event.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office organized the multi-agency Summit hosted by the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe to discuss improving collective efforts on offender re-entry.  Offender re-entry is when a member of the community is released from prison back to their community after serving a sentence for criminal conduct.  Statistics have shown that two-thirds of all individuals released from prison are arrested within three years of release.  One-third of all probationers incur a subsequent criminal conviction.  This occurs, in part, because of the lack of infrastructure to support the person re-entering society.  The goals of the Summit included supporting community needs, protecting public safety, reducing re-offending conduct by supporting returning offenders.

The group outlined potential solutions, including local substance abuse counseling (both in-patient and out-patient), employment, and housing to support the offender as the person comes back to the community.  The notification of victims and community members when an offender is released from prison was also identified as a top priority.  There were discussions regarding existing resources and future needs to support an offender re-entry program for the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.  Establishing a collaborative path forward on federal offender re-entry

The Summit included a presentation on “Creating a Successful Offender Reentry Program” by Kimberly Cobb, Project Director of American Probation & Parole Association.  That presentation defined re-entry as a seamless process that begins when a person first enters prison, and continues all the way through to reintegration back into the community.  An important part of developing a successful strategy is identifying funding, and looking at best practices from other tribal re-entry programs.

“The Summit was a critical step in working towards our collective goal of promoting public safety on the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation,” U.S. Attorney John Walsh said.  “Working closely with the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe we hope to strive to reduce recidivism and continue to make the reservation a safer place.”

This event was successful because of the many leaders who attended the Summit.  Key participants included Ute Mountain Ute Chairman Manuel Heart, former Chairman Gary Hayes, Ute Mountain Ute Council Members Priscilla Blackhawk-Rentz (Tribal Council Secretary/Custodian), Juanita Plentyholes (Vice Chair), and DeAnne House, U.S. Magistrate Judge David West, head Federal Public Defender Virginia Grady, U.S. Probation Chief LaVetra Castles, Ute Mountain Ute General Counsel Peter Ortego, as well as representatives from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

The coalition will continue to meet to refine the identified goals and work to implement them.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to work in collaboration with the many partners participating in this process.

Updated June 22, 2015