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Jail Reentry Planning: A Little Collaboration and Communication Go a Long Way
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By Andrew Verheek, Planner, Kent County Office of Community Corrections, Grand Rapids, Michigan

This article describes how several justice and community service agencies joined forces to launch a reentry system for county jail inmates in a Michigan city. Because of the complexity of planning and implementation and the challenges of meeting all stakeholder agencies’ needs, clear and open communication was vital to the project’s success.

The author gives specific examples of how the multiple partner organizations were able to collaborate on policy decisions, development of a proxy risk assessment tool, program selection, grant-seeking, and other aspects of building a reentry solution. From within the jail, the project team also recognized the value of correctional officers’ input on managing the reentry pods. Overall, these collaborations were so productive, they enabled the project to be expanded into developing reentry services for women as well as men.

The overall project was led by the Kent County Office of Community Corrections and the Kent County Sheriff. Its steering committee also included Kent County Circuit Court Probation. The community mental health authority for Kent County, Network180, was very closely involved. Additional contributors included state and local justice system agencies as well as service providers in substance abuse recovery, homelessness, employment, family assistance, and other areas. Data analysis support was contributed by the Grand Valley State University Department of Criminal Justice.

Through their willingness to communicate, collaborate, and share a commitment to project outcomes, the stakeholder agencies created a lasting solution that is reducing recidivism and returns to jail. The Kent County TJC partnership is now in its fifth year.

The National Institute of Corrections (NIC), with project partner The Urban Institute, launched the Transition from Jail to the Community (TJC) initiative in 2007. Phase I of the project developed a model for jail reentry/transition and tested it in six local jurisdictions, including Kent County. NIC and the Urban Institute are working with additional technical assistance sites during TJC Phase II.

Agencies and organizations wishing to learn more about developing reentry services can explore the online TJC Implementation Toolkit. Access it and other resources at Transition from Jail to Community (TJC), or access the toolkit directly at Transition from Jail to Community Online Learning Toolkit.

Posted Wed, Jul 9 2014 9:17 AM by Elizabeth


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