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.
In 2013, at the direction of the Attorney General, the Department of Justice launched a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system in order to identify reforms that would ensure federal laws are enforced more fairly and more efficiently. Smart on Crime focuses on Prevention, Enforcement, and Prisoner Reentry into communities. There were five goals identified as a part of this review:
- To ensure finite resources are devoted to the most important law enforcement priorities;
- To promote fairer enforcement of the laws and alleviate disparate impacts of the criminal justice system;
- To ensure just punishments for low-level, nonviolent convictions;
- To bolster prevention and reentry efforts to deter crime and reduce recidivism;
- To strengthen protections for vulnerable population.
Read more about the Department of Justice’s Smart on Crime Initiative
DISTRICT OF NEVADA'S CLEAR COURT PROGRAM
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Nevada, in coordination with the U.S. District Court, U.S. Probation Office, and the Federal Public Defender, started Court Led Efforts at Recovery (CLEAR) Court in hopes to break the cycle of recidivism. The program is intended for high-risk offenders who have a documented history of substance abuse, who do not have a violent criminal conviction. Successful completion of reentry court requires at least one year. Offenders who successfully complete the program receive twelve months off their term of supervised release or probation.
The goal of the court is to decrease recidivism by combining more intensive supervision with improved access to counseling and treatment. The CLEAR Court Team is comprised of two magistrate judges, a probation officer, an Assistant U.S. Attorney, an Assistant Federal Public Defender, a mental health therapist, and a substance abuse counselor. The team works collaboratively to devise appropriate incentives for positive behavior and appropriate sanctions for negative behavior by program participants. For example, a participant who obtains and retains a job and is functioning well in other aspects of his or her life might have the intrusiveness of supervision (such as frequency of counseling sessions or drug testing) decreased. On the other hand, a participant who fails a drug test might be required to live in a halfway house for a period of time and have progression through the program delayed, requiring the participant to spend more than a year in the program in order to graduate. Chronic and/or more serious violations can result in the offender being sent to jail for up to a week while still remaining in the program. Rewards and sanctions are imposed immediately, for maximum effect and to encourage accountability. More serious violations can result in the participant being removed from the program and sent back before the original sentencing judge for adjudication of the violation.
RESOURCES FOR RECENTLY RELEASED INDIVIDUALS
RESOURCE FOR COMMUNITY GROUPS
RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS
Department of Labor Federal Bonding Program provides fidelity bonding insurance coverage to individuals with criminal histories and other high-risk job applicants who are qualified, but who do not get jobs because regular commercial bonding is denied due to their backgrounds.
Work Opportunity Tax Credit is a federal tax credit offered to employers as an incentive to hire targeted groups which have traditionally faced significant barriers to employment.