The issues surrounding the criminal justice system are extremely complex and cannot be solved by criminal justice agencies alone. To combat some of the biggest challenges those reentering may face, we have formed a reentry coalition in Jefferson Parish. Members from the community, who specialize in the below areas, are working on possible solutions to reduce some of the barriers to successful reentry.
Numerous studies have concluded that the most important predictor of recidivism is access to gainful and stable employment. As a result, we are building a coalition of businesses within the community willing to hire a Reentry Court participant when they return to our community. While incarcerated, these offenders receive numerous industry standard certifications in their chosen field, including automotive, welding and HVAC. There are approximately 15 different vocations offered at Angola for the men and 4 vocations offered for the women at LCIW, including welding, culinary and horticulture.
There is a critical need for legal services among ex-offenders that impact their ability to find employment, housing, and other resources that foster a successful reentry into the community. As a result, we have partnered with the Louisiana State Bar Association and Justice & Accountability Center of Louisiana to identify any possible barriers for the Reentry Court participants while they are incarcerated so that those issues can be addressed even before release.
mental health/substance abuse
"Many individuals who come in contact with law enforcement and the criminal or juvenile justice systems have a mental and/or substance use disorder. According to a 2006 Bureau of Justice Statistics report, approximately 74% of state prisoners, 63% of federal prisoners and 76% of jail inmates met the criteria for a mental health disorder. An estimated 42% of state prisoners and 49% of jail inmates met the criteria for both a mental health and substance use disorder." Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Adminsitration (SAMHSA). Every returning citizen will continue to receive any necessary mental health and/or substance abuse counseling.
Housing poses a significant hurdle for individuals returning home from incarceration. For low-income residents, some housing authorities prohibit returning citizens from residing in federally supported locations, such as public housing or section 8. Additionally, landlords may not lease to individuals who are currently under state supervision or who have a criminal record. These obstacles may prevent an individual from reuniting with family members and, in some cases, promote homelessness.
Every returning citizen must have community support before being released. As a result, we have developed an online training program to better equip those interested in becoming a mentor. We are also developing a program to mentor the children of the offenders while they are incarcerated. If you would like to learn more about becoming a mentor, please contact us.
When Reentry Court participants reenter society after incarceration, they will have the ability to earn a livable wage. They will also have a number of financial obligations. As a result, we have partnered with financial professionals to develop a program that will teach these men and women how to budget and properly manage their money. These professionals will also teach them how to file their tax returns.