Return with Honor is a new nonprofit in Brunswick County dedicated to creating employment opportunities and training for people who have served in the military and are ex-offenders. Specifically, Return with Honor will hire people who have served in the military to train and mange people who are on house arrest, work release, probation, parole or weekend jail. The goal is to address employment issues for people who served in the military and to help reduce recidivism by creating a strong reentry program for the criminally involved.
This combination of helping employ ex-military and ex-offenders is exactly the type of community based program desperately needed in North Carolina. To reduce the overuse of jails and prisons, there must be support systems available to those people reentering society to break the cycle of recidivism. In 2015-2016, North Carolina released almost 24,000 people from prison. This number does not include all the people who reenter communities from jails and probation. The Carolina Justice Policy Center makes it a priority to support entities that are working to make reentry a positive experience that reduces recidivism.
Return with Honor is hosting an open house on April 6, 2017 from noon until 1pm. Learn more about Return with Honor »
House Bill 233, entitled Ban the Box, can make getting a job a little bit easier for those people with prior convictions. Primary sponsors are Democratic Whips, Rep. Garland Pierce and Rodney Moore, along with Rep. Cecil Brockman and Rep. Charles Graham.
The bill’s primary purpose is to reduce barriers to employment for people with criminal histories, and decrease unemployment in communities with concentrated numbers of people with criminal records. The goal of the bill is to reduce recidivism and improve economic stability for communities. Rep. Chuck McGrady, the sole Republican signed on to the bill, is also a primary sponsor for raising the juvenile age, which is also designed to reduce long term recidivism and improve economic and social stability in North Carolina.
Contrary to many of the misconceptions about this bill, it does not prevent employers from learning about the criminal history of individuals applying for positions. The bill calls for the elimination of the requirement to disclose that the applicant has a criminal record on the initial application. This change will allow job seekers with criminal back grounds to make a first impression on the employer without the negative stigma of knowing the applicant made a mistake in the past. The bill would only remove the question of previous criminal convictions from most city, county, and state job applications.
Dennis Gaddy, with Community Success Initiative, told the News and Observer that having a job reduces a person’s chance of going back to prison by 50 percent. Carolina Justice Policy Center works to support efforts to help reduce recidivism and improve the quality of North Carolina communities.
Read more about the Ban the Box bill »
As we reported in our last update, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) is seeking applications for funding for the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program. The purpose of this grant is to help communities create and continue cross-system collaborations for people with mental health issues that may become justice involved. To promote the grant, a series of webinars were presented to help grant seekers understand the process.
Units of local government are eligible to apply for this grant. To be considered for the grant the application must demonstrate that the proposed project involves collaboration between criminal justice and mental health agencies. The deadline for submission for this grant is April 4, 2017. The application can be accessed online.
You can also view a recorded webinar on the grant project and application process.
Last week, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) held its annual CIT Conference. The conference was designed for law enforcement officers, jail administrators, court personnel, emergency responders, social workers, counselors, and mental health advocates. During the conference attendees heard from criminal justice professionals about how to effectively and humanely deal with the growing number of criminal justice involved people with mental health issues.
A highlight of the conference was a lecture by Risdon Slate, Ph.D., Criminology Professor. He bravely shared how his personal battle with mental illness caused him to be involved with the criminal justice system. As a criminal justice professional who has personally experienced being mentally ill and justice involved, his perspective was powerful and enlightening.
During an award luncheon at the conference, the following people were recognized for their outstanding work with CIT:
CIT Officer of the Year CIT Champion of the Year
Officer Darrell Meadows Suzanne Porter
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Dept.
CIT Volunteer of the Year Outstanding CIT Trainer of the Year
Keith Gibson Senior Sergeant Hardin Brown, Jr.
Cumberland County Sheriff Dept.
Outstanding Law Enforcement Executive of the Year
Sergeant Christopher Smith
New Hanover County Sheriff Department
Outstanding CIT Partnership
Lincoln County CIT Steering Committee
We encourage you to reach out to the municipalities the honorees represent to learn more about how CIT is making a difference in their communities and how you may be able to advocate for CIT training in your community.
In mid-January, the Department of Public Safety awarded Re-entry contracts to four additional “Intermediate Agencies” areas of the state. Five areas are currently funded.
The new areas and agencies are:
- Leading into New Communities – New Hanover
- Durham County – Durham
- Family Resource Center South Atlantic – Wake
- Freedom Life Ministries – McDowell
Agencies received $150,000 each to coordinate local re-entry councils and job development for the re-entry population.
We are delighted to see funding for Re-entry Council work move forward. All funding is expected to be short term and agencies are expected to identify local funding. We would like to see some state funds be allocated to this purpose to insure the continuation of the Councils.
The Department of Public Safety recently awarded over $3 million in contracts to agencies providing evidence-based Cognitive Behavioral Intervention and substance abuse services to individuals on probation or post-release supervision.
These contracts were awarded in a re-bid process because some providers withdrew from contracts leaving areas without services. Many others have found it difficult to operate under the extremely low monthly reimbursements paid out under the current contracts. There were also a few areas in which agencies had not bid for services.
While program completion is an important measure, it would be better to reward improvements in completion, rather than completion alone. Since the high risk/high need population currently has a recidivism rate (measured by re-arrest) ranging from 35%-60%, even the most successful programs or probation officers are unlikely to realize a 100% completion rate.
Contracts were awarded to:
- Coastal Horizons – $469,436 – Duplin, Pitt, Sampson and Wayne.
- Freedom House Recovery Center – $228,521 – Caswell, Chatham, Orange, Person, and Warren
- Insight Human Services – $2,044,566 – Cabarrus, Gaston, Guilford, Mecklenburg and Randolph
- Loving Light Community Outreach – $55,339 – Chowan and Gates
- Piedmont Triad Regional Council – $201,181, Rowan
- PORT Human Services – $191,014 – Pitt
- Walk Through the Valley – $412,722 – Edgecombe, Nash and Wilson