U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose Meets With Leadership Of Reentry Councils To Discuss The Efforts Of Western District's Reentry Programs For Former Offenders
Employment Opportunities, Educational Needs and Access to Housing among Topics Addressed
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – United States Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose met today with the leadership of Reentry Councils for Mecklenburg and Buncombe counties and a Project Reentry representative for Iredell county, to discuss the efforts of reentry programs in place aimed at reducing recidivism and helping former offenders transition successfully into mainstream society following incarceration. The Department of Justice has designated the week of April 24-30, 2016, as National Reentry Week, to bring attention to some of the unique challenges faced by formerly incarcerated individuals and to highlight the department’s efforts to support and strengthen reentry programs and to help former inmates stay out of the criminal justice system.
“The challenges faced by former offenders released from prison are multiple and can oftentimes contribute to a cycle of incarceration,” said U.S. Attorney Rose following today’s meeting. “Lack of employment and housing opportunities, educational needs, substance abuse and lack of vocational training are some of the barriers that can make a difference in whether a person successfully reenters society after serving his or her prison term. We are partnering with community organizations across the district to remove some of these obstacles and to provide former offenders with the tools and resources they need to be productive, law-abiding citizens post release.”
Reentry Councils for Mecklenburg and Buncombe Counties and Project Reentry for Iredell County are organizations that provide services to previously incarcerated individuals in their respective communities. At today’s meeting, each representative provided an overview of the services their programs offer to former inmates or those nearing the end of their prison term, including vocational training, finding and maintaining employment, access to education, housing needs, life skills training, parenting coaching, anger management, and substance abuse counseling. During today’s meeting, current challenges and ways of improving existing programs were discussed, as well as future initiatives and goals to enhance reintegration outcomes.
As part of National Reentry Week, U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch released this week 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.