Members of Rhode Island's congressional delegation today announced the award of $808,864 to the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RIDOC) by the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance. RIDOC will use the grant, provided under the Second Chance Act Adult Offender Comprehensive Statewide Recidivism Reduction Demonstration Program, to improve reentry services and substantially reduce recidivism.
The Second Chance Act of 2007 was signed into law to help communities develop and implement strategies that address the challenges faced by those leaving incarceration, their families, and their communities. RIDOC will use this funding to better assess sentenced offenders' risks and needs, and to strengthen the connection between the rehabilitative efforts conducted within correctional institutions and those taking place in the community. This effort will include better training for probation and parole officers and community service providers, and an investment in computer enhancements to track results.
"Strong re-entry programs help former inmates become productive members of society, not repeat offenders," said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who cosponsored the Second Chance Act and has supported its reauthorization as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "This helps keep people safe in our cities and towns, and ultimately saves money for Rhode Island taxpayers through reduced prison costs."
"In these fiscally challenging times, we need to invest our limited resources into programs that produce strong returns," said Congressman Jim Langevin. "When we fully implement and support the Second Chance Act, everyone benefits from fewer taxpayer-funded incarcerations of repeat offenders and from safer communities in which former inmates make positive contributions to society rather than commit more crimes."
"I was proud to support RIDOC's application for this important funding through the Second Chance Act, which will bring significant federal resources to aid in reducing the number repeat offenders, while also helping to strengthen and protect families and save taxpayer dollars in the future," said Congressman David Cicilline.
"The Rhode Island Department of Corrections is excited about receiving this award, which will allow us to reduce recidivism rates by targeting medium to high-risk offenders," said RIDOC Director Ashbel T. Wall II.
In 2009, 3,387 individuals were released from RIDOC custody. Upon reentering society, many of these individuals are likely to struggle with substance abuse, lack of adequate education and job skills, limited housing options, and mental health issues. Twenty-eight percent of RIDOC prisoners released in 2009 returned to serve a new prison sentence within one year, and another 34 percent were in custody awaiting trial.