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Re-entry from prison presents newly released offenders with obstacles that threaten their success on the outside. Some of these include alienation from family and community, lack of a supportive social network, difficulty finding employment, and limited housing options. Such obstacles prove more difficult than many released offenders can handle. As a result, they re-offend and return to prison. In some areas of the country, that rate can be over 40%. Spurred by budget concerns and public safety, government and community leaders are looking desperately for strategies to reduce recidivism—the revolving door that leads from prison to the community and back to prison again.
The New York Housing Authority (NYCHA) and its partners have introduced an innovative strategy to address the problem. For two years, the NYCHA has run a pilot program allowing ex-offenders to live in public housing with relatives. Hailed as a creative strategy for addressing the nationwide problem of recidivism, the pilot program combines intensive case management and family reunification as re-entry tools that improve the chances for newly released offenders to re-enter their communities successfully. Despite critics’ predictions, the initiative has so far proven effective.
Margaret diZerega is director of the “Family Justice Program” at the Vera Institute of Justice, which assists the NYCHA to implement and to track the pilot study. She predicts that the program will become a model for similar programs elsewhere. She cited a recent HUD Guidance document that identified the NYCHA “family-r...
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...try problems within the local community, Indianapolis policymakers should want to take a closer look this tool--and citizens should urge them to do so.
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