NEW HAVEN LAUNCHES FIRST-IN-THE-STATE PRISON REENTRY INITIATIVE WEBSITE
(7/14/2009) CITY IMPLEMENTS NEXT STEP IN CRIME REDUCTION STRATEGY
New Haven -As the first year of the City’s Prison Reentry Initiative draws to a close, the Community Services Administration launched a new web site featuring several useful tools for individuals returning from prison and the community-based providers who serve them. The website, the first-of-its-kind in Connecticut, includes a New Haven Reentry Resource Guide, an interactive map supplement directing individuals to basic needs (food, clothing, housing and benefits), and a Guide to Obtaining Birth Certificates specifically designed for individuals returning from prison who have little or no formal identification. Print versions of the resource guide will be distributed to community partners and will be available at City Hall
The website also contains information and links relating to the most public achievement of the City’s Prison Reentry Initiative to date: the “ban the box” antidiscrimination ordinance passed by a sweeping majority of the New Haven Board of Aldermen in February 2009. This ordinance, which prevents blanket discrimination against individuals with criminal convictions, helps ensure that formerly incarcerated individuals have real opportunities to turn their lives around through gainful employment, which numerous studies have identified as one of the most critical protective factors against criminal activity and recidivism.
“Almost every individual who goes to prison is, one day, going to return home,” said Deborah Marcuse, the City’s Prison Reentry Coordinator. “The real question is: what happens then? Will cycles of crime, violence and incarceration continue, undermining public safety and ravaging our most vulnerable families and communities? Or will formerly incarcerated individuals be able to access and embrace real opportunities for positive change and community reintegration?”
Marcuse continued, “Unbroken cycles of incarceration and recidivism are key contributors to crime and violence-throughout our city and disproportionately in some of our most vulnerable neighborhoods. All apart from the social costs of crime and violence, the economic costs of incarceration are astronomical: Connecticut taxpayers spend, on average, more than $44,000 annually for each person incarcerated in our prisons.”
Recognizing these hard facts, the City of New Haven has been a leader among Connecticut municipalities in embarking on a comprehensive Prison Reentry Initiative as an administration priority since 2008. Working with community partners, state agencies and other stakeholders, the City’s goal has been to conceive and promote a comprehensive and collaborative strategy for reintegrating formerly incarcerated individuals into their communities.
Formerly incarcerated individuals frequently return home from prison in a state of profound deprivation with regard to almost every area of their lives, from basic needs like housing, clothing and food to employment, health care, education and family issues. The burden of supporting recently released individuals often falls hardest on their families. At the same time, the families and communities most affected by cycles of incarceration are often the least equipped to deal with the additional strain of supporting individuals recently released from prison.
Engaging the reentry population and offering positive choices is one piece of the City’s crime reduction strategy. In 2008 74% of the victims of shootings and homicides were members of the reentry population while at the same time 71% of the suspects of shootings and homicides were members of the reentry population.
The idea for a New Haven Reentry Resource Guide was first conceived in 2008 by Shirley Anderson, Mary Owens-Green and Kiomary Sotillo, students at Springfield College. Working under the supervision of Barbara Fair, LCSW, these three students researched and compiled the information that became Section 3 of the New Haven Reentry Resource Guide.
Sections 1 and 2 of the Guide, along with the accompanying online map and Guide to Obtaining Birth Certificates were researched and compiled by students in the Criminal Justice Policy Seminar at the Yale Law School in Spring 2009, working under the supervision of Tracey Meares, Walter Hale Hamilton Professor of Law.
The final version of the Guide was assembled, edited and published through the City of New Haven’s Prison Reentry Initiative. Critical editorial assistance was provided by Youth at Work Intern Michael Wint, Liman Summer Fellow Stephany Reaves and Law Student Intern
The City would also like to acknowledge the Arthur Liman Public Interest Program at the Yale Law School, which has provided funding and support for the current Prison Reentry Coordinator, Deborah Marcuse, through the Arthur Liman Public Interest Fellowship Program.
View the Reentry Initiative Website by visiting:
Or visit: www.cityofnewhaven.com
Contact Name: Jessica Mayorga
Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Phone: 203-946-7660