“A Day in the Life”
West Palm Beach - Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Jeri Muoio, Mayor of the City of West Palm Beach, Stephanie Sejnoha, Public Safety Director of the Palm Beach County Public Safety Department, Steve Craig, President and Chief Executive Officer of CareerSource of Palm Beach County, and Willie Bentley, Northwest Community Center Director for the Salvation Army, announced the successful completion of the second annual Reentry Simulation held today at the Salvation Army’s Northwest Community Center. More than 120 community members, officials and stakeholders attended the event, which simulates the struggles and challenges faced by individuals who are transitioning from incarceration back into society. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida and its dedicated partners continue to take significant steps to reduce recidivism and help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully contribute to their communities.
The Reentry Simulation is just one of many initiatives that support Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction strategy. Locally, PSN is carried out by the Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP), a holistic, three-pronged approach to violence reduction – one focused not only on enforcement, but also on prevention and reentry. Utilizing this multi-faceted approach, the VRP aims to reduce crime and promote safer and more resilient communities.
Each year, more than 600,000 citizens return to our neighborhoods after serving time in federal and state prisons, and another 11.4 million individuals cycle through local jails. The long-term impact of a criminal record prevents many returning citizens from obtaining employment, housing, a quality education, adequate health care, personal identification and even financial credit. These often-crippling barriers can contribute to a cycle of incarceration that makes it difficult for even the most well intentioned individuals to continue on the right path and avoid reentering the criminal justice system. Within the Southern District of Florida, comprehensive reentry initiatives promote the successful reintegration of returning citizens and strive to reduce recidivism. The goal is to help those who have paid their debt to society best 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 local communities.
Participants in today’s VRP Reentry Simulation gained an understanding of the significant obstacles faced by men and women, upon their release from incarceration. Employment opportunities, social services, and resources are needed in order to support the returning citizens’ successful transition back into our local community.
In addition to the Re-Entry Simulations, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our partners support other invaluable reentry initiatives.
In 2016, the Southern District of Florida launched its first ever Reentry Court, known as the Court-Assisted Reentry (CARE) Initiative. The CARE Initiative is a problem-solving, collaborative effort between U.S. District Court, the U.S. Probation Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Federal Public Defender representatives, and a Department of Justice Re-Entry Specialist. The CARE Team’s mission is to: help those returning from prison to become productive members of society by providing coordination for job training and placement, housing assistance, educational support, and the medical, substance abuse and mental health referrals; promote community safety by reducing recidivism and victimization; and reduce taxpayer spending on incarceration. Through bi-weekly court sessions, the CARE Team assesses each participants’ progress, addresses any issues with his or her reentry, decides whether wrap-around services can be provided, and determines appropriate rewards and/or sanctions.
To further support our returning citizens, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, alongside the Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Probation and non-profit service providers have conducted Reentry and Resource (“in-reach”) Meetings at both the Federal Detention Center and the Federal Correctional Institution located in the Southern District. The meetings provide inmates preparing to be released from incarceration with the tools and information they need to navigate their successful re-entry into society and reduce their risk of recidivism. Since 2013, more than 300 individuals have attended the meetings and received a Reentry Resource Guide.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our community partners also continue to support the South Florida Reentry Center Hub, a traveling one-stop service center for returning citizens and their families. The Reentry Center Hub provides returning citizens with easy, centralized access to a variety of reentry services within their local communities. Since 2014, Reentry Center Hub events, held in Fort Pierce, Miami Gardens, Liberty City and Goulds, Florida, have reached more than 400 returning citizens and their families.
The success of these initiatives and today’s simulation would not have been possible, without community support. In particular, of the City of West Palm Beach Mayor’s Village Initiative, a collaborative multidisciplinary strategy to prevent and reduce youth violence and improve outcomes for African American boys and young men in the North End of the City of West Palm Beach. Also, the Palm Beach County Public Safety Department, Justice Services Division, Reentry Initiative and CareerSource of Palm Beach County, both of which currently provide services to returning citizens to reduce recidivism.
Additional information regarding the CARE and VRP initiatives is available at firstname.lastname@example.org (link sends e-mail) or by calling (305) 961-9134.