The Collaborative on Reentry

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1 The Collaborative on Reentry EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

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3 ILLINOIS CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM In 2009, 1 in every 38 adults in Illinois was under correctional control. This represents a dramatic growth in the corrections population in 1982, the figure was 1 in 83 and a significant cost to the State of Illinois. Each year, Illinois taxpayers spend more than $1 billion on the state corrections system, and yet recidivism rates of over 50% demonstrate that the system is not as effective as it should be. Non-violent drug offenders alone cost the system approximately $250 million a year to incarcerate. Many inmates serve six months or less in prison, not enough time to access any meaningful rehabilitative services nor act as a deterrent to future crime. The result has been an escalating cycle of repeat offending and incarceration, the costs for which are no longer sustainable in today s economy. Many Illinois communities are overwhelmed by the cycle of incarceration and reentry. Ten regions throughout the state receive 82% of returning offenders, not accounting for the churning jail population. Communities are altered first when the offender is removed from the community and again when he or she returns, with the stigma of a criminal record and often in need of housing, employment, and social services which many communities struggle to provide. Yet, options exist. Community-based diversion programs, problem-solving courts, and in- jail treatment programs are burgeoning. Significant cost savings and better public safety outcomes can be achieved by implementing evidence-based programs that are proven to reduce recidivism. For example, the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that every dollar spent on treatment can reduce future burden costs by $12 or more in reduced substance-related crime and criminal justice and health care costs. COLLABORATIVE ON REENTRY In December 2008, members of the Mayoral Policy Caucus on Prisoner Reentry and the Governor s Commission on Community Safety and Reentry reconvened to review the progress of reentry efforts in the state of Illinois since The Collaborative on Reentry was charged with increasing public safety by addressing issues that required the attention of our state and local systems to encourage successful reintegration of those returning home after incarceration. Since the initial joint reconvening, the Collaborative has grown from 150 partners to over 475 statewide. Members include representatives from: government agencies, businesses, foundations, educational institutions, community-based organizations, law enforcement, as well as people with criminal backgrounds. The work has provided a forum for the collective body of members to use their expertise, judgment, and insight to advance policy and systems change in the state. Collaborative members created and participated in four Workgroups Alternatives to Incarceration, Education and Employment, Housing and Juvenile Reentry. They were charged with determining the current status of reentry policies and practices to reduce crime and incarceration and promote lower recidivism rates for returning offenders; reviewing the status of recommendations from the initial reports; collecting data and best practices about offender reentry; examining ways to effectively pool existing resources and to leverage new dollars (including developing new policies and practices that could serve as a reentry plans for the Second Chance Act applications); and designing focused advocacy efforts to implement recommendations.

4 The Collaborative s members assisted with the development and passage of major criminal justice reform in Illinois. The Crime Reduction Act (P.A ) and legislation creating the Sentencing Policy Advisory Council (SPAC) (P.A ) codified a smarter approach to crime reduction. The legislation addresses the need for better offender assessment and systemwide information sharing (with the Risks, Assets and Needs Assessment Task Force (RANA) and SPAC), as well as for expanded institutional and community-based treatment and supervision options (including the performance incentive funding program, Adult Redeploy Illinois). The Collaborative on Reentry helped design and supported the passage of this nationally recognized legislation; and its members have remained involved in the implementation process. ALTERNATIVES TO INCARCERATION The charge to the Workgroup was to research how to establish a common, effective assessment instrument for those in the criminal justice system and determine how to expand the continuum of community-based options for supervision and support services to provide appropriate offenders with effective alternatives to incarceration while addressing issues which deter criminal behavior. The Alternatives to Incarceration workgroup was formed to explore emerging issues related to the diversion of non-violent offenders from the prison system to more cost-effective services in the community. Diversion programs not only alleviate jail and prison overcrowding thereby saving money; but, when appropriate, they also provide offenders with services that address issues at the root of their criminal behavior and aid their rehabilitation, such as mental health and substance abuse treatment. Certain alternatives to incarceration have been shown to lower recidivism, make communities safer, and keep families intact. Furthermore, in some cases (such as those diversion programs that include restorative justice practices), alternatives to incarceration options can repair harm to the victim and the community. RECOMMENDATIONS 1. The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Agency (ICJIA) will perform a gap analysis of diversion opportunities in the state, focusing on high-impact areas, reviewing individuals access to interventions and current service capacity versus need. The gap analysis will determine where diversion opportunities are lacking and how resources can be most effectively deployed. 2. As part of a larger effort, the Sentencing Policy Advisory Council (SPAC) and ICJIA will conduct a comprehensive system mapping exercise of the current Illinois criminal justice system, its decision points and program options (including diversion) at each stage. This exercise will aid key stakeholders in future system-wide criminal justice planning and correctional population management. 3. Advocates and state reform entities like SPAC and the Adult Redeploy Illinois Oversight Board will model the process for Illinois on the Bureau of Justice Assistance s justice reinvestment initiative to bolster no entry efforts. Justice reinvestment would promote data-driven decision-making and expand community intervention and prevention options to reduce reliance on incarceration.

5 EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT The charge of the Education and Employment Workgroup was to create comprehensive strategies focused on employment options that are linked to an evolving workforce, which would include education and vocational skills training for prisoners and formerly incarcerated individuals in areas such as green jobs, technology, etc. Starting in the 1990 s, public outcry about public safety and the resulting political pressures caused prison systems nationwide to trend away from their original focus - reformation and rehabilitation to incapacitation and crime control. Among the consequences of this change in focus were significantly larger prison populations coupled with reduced funding for in-prison educational and rehabilitation programs. As state budgets face heightened fiscal strains, lawmakers are starting to re-think the wisdom of warehousing prisoners without preparing them for release. One of the most effective means of ensuring that the formerly incarcerated does not return to prison, is to prepare them for employment post-release. A study conducted at Roosevelt University showed that inmates from the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) who participated in a life skills reentry educational program had a recidivism rate of only 14% with 65% gainfully employed. Illinois current recidivism rate is 52%--more than three times higher. 1 Additionally, further studies demonstrate that quality correctional education within prisons can lead to steady employment and reduced recidivism. The Education and Employment Workgroup focused on gathering data and information on these four areas to move forward on recommendations for these issue areas: ISSUE AREAS Education Subcommittee A. Universal access to education (ABE, GED/High school credentials, Bridge programs, and distance learning) B. Restoration of post-secondary correctional education Employment Subcommittee C. Reduce barriers to employment for people with criminal records D. Engage the business community and build public awareness around providing employment for people with criminal records 1 Failing Grade: The Decline in Educational Opportunities for Illinois Prison Inmates, March 2006, Campaign for Responsible Priorities AFSCME Council 31:

6 EDUCATION RECOMMENDATIONS 1. Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) will conduct a system-wide educational assessment to determine what programs are currently in place and the educational needs of the prisoners. 2. IDOC will revamp and expand access to in-prison secondary education to better prepare prisoners for the job market upon release. 3. IDOC and community organizations supported by IDOC will provide post-release educational and career consulting services by creating a link between in-prison programs and post-release programs to support recently released prisoners. [Adult Reentry Articulation] 4. Advocates will work to restore post-secondary education support by influencing Congress to extend Pell Grant eligibility to prisoners. EMPLOYMENT RECOMMENDATIONS 5. IDOC will prepare prison population to be successful in employment upon reentry. 6. Illinois Department of Employment Security and IDOC will educate business owners and operators about the benefits available to them when hiring people with criminal records and about the risks of blanket hiring policies that exclude people when individual reviews are not considered in the employment decisions. 7. The Illinois General Assembly will create a legislative committee or subcommittee devoted to reentry legislation. 8. The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) will staff and allocate funding the legislatively created Task Force on Inventorying Employment Restrictions so Illinois agencies can accurately assess all of the employment barriers that currently exist for people with criminal records. 9. The Illinois General Assembly will closely regulate for-profit companies that buy, package, and sell criminal background checks to employers, landlords, and other entities. In addition, the government entities that provide criminal records to these companies should take steps to ensure that these companies do not disseminate faulty criminal background information. 10. The Illinois General Assembly will ensure that new licensing laws and occupational restrictions do not impose blanket bans on people with criminal records. 11. The Illinois General Assembly will expand the list of criminal convictions eligible for sealing. 12. Before introducing new fees/restitutions or raising current fees on defendants in the criminal justice system, the Illinois General Assembly will take into account the impact of newly proposed fees in addition to already existing fees to ensure that people with criminal records are not being saddled with enormous debts they cannot afford to pay. 13. The Governor and General Assembly will facilitate the creation of a Business-led Commission to examine the employment related aspects of prisoner reentry in the state and to advance remedies for intended and unintended barriers to employment affecting men and women with criminal records.

7 HOUSING The charge of the Housing Workgroup was to develop initiatives to remove barriers to housing by increasing supportive housing options and addressing policies and procedures that prevent individuals from accessing subsidized housing. The absence of housing for those leaving prison is a major problem for the re-entry population and the correctional system. Cook County Jail will discharge nearly 100,000 people this year. The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) will discharge more than 37,000 people this year into the community. This is a major process of resettlement and reintegration. Focusing on housing is essential in examining the needs of the Reentry Population. Those detainees released with stable housing will be re-incarcerated less often. 2 The Housing Workgroup settled on four main issue areas from which to focus their recommendations: ISSUE AREAS A. Increase access to public housing There is considerable flexibility available to informed public housing authorities in allowing the formerly incarcerated access to public housing and housing choice vouchers. With eligibility exceptions made for those persons completing counseling with access to ongoing treatment and support services, housing authorities are able to meet the needs of this population while saving long term public emergency dollars and keeping their community safe. Expand permanent supportive housing and form new housing solutions. B. Improve standards for reentry housing Current housing for those leaving corrections needs is often unacceptable, unsafe, and too lightly regulated. It needs to be improved, particularly for those sites receiving public dollars. C. Expand permanent supportive housing and form new housing solutions IDOC should work in partnership with other state agencies to invest and leverage their current limited housing dollars for permanent long term solutions creating adequate supports and quality housing. Improve standards for reentry housing Current housing for those leaving corrections needs is often unacceptable, unsafe, and too lightly regulated. It needs to be improved, particularly for those sites receiving public dollars. D. Increase community awareness about the need to allow housing within local communities to make neighborhoods safer, lives better, and to reinvest dollars that might otherwise continue supporting the growth of the prison industry. 2

8 RECOMMENDATIONS 1. Illinois Public Housing Authorities will modify their Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy (ACOP) and their administrative plans in order to lessen the impact of a criminal history upon eligibility for public housing and the Housing Choice Voucher Program. 2. Housing Advocates will continue their efforts during the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) public comment period to support changes to the administrative plan as well as suggesting changes to current housing authority practices as they impact those with criminal histories and their families. 3. Housing Advocates will monitor the implementation of Illinois Public Housing Authorities administrative plans so that persons with criminal backgrounds are allowed on the waiting list even if they are currently ineligible in order to be able to obtain housing when they become eligible. 4. Each Public Housing Authority will have a fair and adequately staffed appeals process within their administrative plan that allows for persons with a criminal history to be considered upon appeal if they have completed and /or are participating in an approved substance abuse / mental health / or ongoing support program. 5. Public Housing Authorities and community service providers will ensure that the appropriate support services are readily available to assist people with criminal backgrounds if they are able to access Housing Choice Vouchers. 6. Housing Advocates and Housing Officials will work together to modify administrative plans to allow project-based pilot projects and provide vouchers to serve the correctional population in need of additional support services. 7. IDOC will improve the integration of data to allow for better planning and evaluation of current and future housing resources. 8. The Governor and General Assembly will increase resources for internal and external evaluation of state funded and unfunded housing resources. 9. IDOC will ensure sound and seamless implementation of the planned performance measures for housing contracts and services. Those performance measures need to include requirements for the physical structure including safety standards and standards for personal space. 10. IDOC will train all appropriate IDOC staff about housing standards, as part of the performance measures. IDOC will also mandate quarterly housing reports for all unfunded housing to focus primarily on the areas of safety, population density, cleanliness, and evidence of programming. 11. The Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse (DASA) will provide greater oversight over licensed recovery homes including the ongoing use of facilities. 12. The Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) will develop a licensure process for specialized transitional housing with alternate services to accommodate other disabilities (besides substance abuse). 13. IDOC will explore ways to partner with Oxford Houses and other peer run homes designed to meet the needs of people leaving corrections and treatment facilities.

9 14. IDOC will continue to monitor service gaps and community needs as well as current expenditures for community placement across all housing and community placement budgets within the Department. 15. The General Assembly, Governor, and IDOC will examine funding opportunities to create at least one hundred units of permanent supportive housing per the recommendations of the Statewide Reentry Plan. 16. Housing Advocates will create rapid response teams statewide to assist in helping build community support. JUVENILE REENTRY The charge of the Juvenile Reentry Workgroup was to create policies and programs within the juvenile justice system that utilize a positive youth development approach, incorporate balanced and restorative justice practices in juvenile rehabilitation, and provide comprehensive community support services during the aftercare process for juveniles returning to the community. Unique to the Juvenile Reentry Workgroup was the task of building the foundational principles and framework for what an aftercare system in Illinois should look like. Distinct from the other workgroups, which were expanding upon research and recommendations from the previous Governor s and Mayor s reports, the Juvenile Reentry Workgroup sought to develop an understanding of what presently exists within the juvenile justice system (at both the state and local levels), current aftercare / parole policies and practices, as well as a review of national best practice models for building an effective aftercare system. A great deal of this process included developing relationships with the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, the Illinois Department of Corrections, Cook County Juvenile Probation and many other community partners and advocates. The work of the Juvenile Reentry Workgroup was based on clear evidence that youth outcomes and public safety are compromised when youth return from secure detention or corrections facilities without the support needed to avoid reoffending and to achieve success in education, employment and the community. This workgroup also recognized that a primary responsibility of the juvenile justice system is to return youth to communities more able to be productive citizens, and that reincarceration or youth often represents a system failure as much or more than a youth s failure. From these foundational elements, four clear themes emerged: ISSUE AREAS A. Youth are different: Adolescent brain research, state and federal law and research on criminal justice issues clearly recognize and demonstrate that youth are fundamentally different from adults. Youth make decisions, weigh consequences and process information much differently than adults. On the other hand, youth are extremely capable of positive change and growth, with the right support. To meet its obligations, the Illinois juvenile reentry / aftercare systems must recognize and act upon these fundamental differences between youth and adults. Improve standards for reentry housing Current housing for those leaving corrections needs is often unacceptable, unsafe, and too lightly regulated. It needs to be improved, particularly for those sites receiving public dollars.

10 B. Incarceration is costly: The state s Auditor General has estimated that it costs an average of $80,000 or more to incarcerate one youth in a state facility. In a time of fiscal crisis, the high costs of incarceration cannot be ignored. C. Community-based strategies work better: Corrections research has demonstrated repeatedly that detention and incarceration do little to foster positive behavior in the long run. But community-based strategies that help youth build new skills do have long-term positive impact. And even the most rigorous and costly community-based programs cost far less than incarceration or detention. D. Investing in youth makes sense: While some view detention and particularly commitment to DJJ as the deep end of the juvenile justice system, workgroup members recognized that the juvenile system can be the gateway to a life of involvement in the adult criminal justice system and a life of crime, victimization, despair and incarceration. The costs of lifetime involvement in the criminal justice system are astronomical for youth, families, communities and taxpayers. Investing in better outcomes with these youth makes sense for our communities and our budgets. RECOMMENDATIONS The Juvenile Reentry Workgroup recommends a critical analysis of all admission / commitment, intake, institutional, release decision and aftercare policy, practice and programming to ensure that the system fosters successful reentry and positive outcomes for youth, families and communities instead of creating barriers to positive outcomes. While the Workgroup s findings and recommendations are detailed, they fall into five key categories: 1. Eliminate unnecessary incarceration and detention through enhanced support of community-based strategies. 2. Ensure that all secure facilities can and do provide safe, effective care which addresses individual youth risk, needs, assets, trauma and prepares youth for successful return to the community. 3. Ensure that release decisions are informed, fair, rational and protect due process. 4. Implement a range of developmentally-sound, evidence-based, community-based service, support and supervision strategies to keep youth safely in their communities upon release. 5. Measure and analyze the outcomes of youth and families and continually adjust policy, practice and programs to produce positive outcomes.

11 The Sequential Intercept Model has been used as a focal point for states and communities to assess available resources, determine gaps in services, and plan for community change. These activities are best accomplished by a team of stakeholders that cross over multiple systems, including mental health, substance abuse, law enforcement, pre-trial services, courts, jails, community corrections, housing, health, social services, and many others and helps to assess where diversion activities may be developed, how institutions can better meet treatment needs, and when to begin activities to facilitate re-entry.

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