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Solutions for Confinement & Reentry
Over 70,000 people leave Texas prisons every year, while a million individuals cycle through local jails. Various barriers and restrictions prevent many returning individuals from successfully transitioning into our communities, forcing them back into crime and back into confinement. Currently, correctional facilities lack sufficient rehabilitative programs and services like treatment programming and vocational courses that help people become productive members of society upon release. What’s more, Texas’ parole system is in need of program funding, case management assistance, and a wider use of best practices to most effectively assist those under supervision. Finally, obstacles in housing, employment, education, and mental health services in Texas communities minimize the likelihood that individuals can remain law abiding. This means more victims, as well as significant taxpayer expense.
- Tools for Personal Responsibility: The vast majority of individuals in our prisons will one day return to our communities. They must be provided the tools necessary to become accountable and responsible – including in-prison rehabilitative and educational programming, identification documents, housing and employment assistance, a post-release treatment plan, and improved access to occupational licenses. Every returning individual should have the opportunity to become an asset, not a liability, to the community.
- Safety and Accountability: Conditions of confinement impact an individual’s rehabilitative progress. The more unsafe and inhumane the conditions, the more difficult it is to remain healthy and build the skills necessary for success upon reentering the community. Prison staff is also negatively affected by unsafe and unsanitary conditions, contributing to turnover. However, Texas’ corrections system does not have an independent oversight body that could help to address complaints and assist in improving conditions of confinement. Texas spends too much money on incarceration to allow these problems to go unchecked.
- Family Unification: Boosting family interaction among incarcerated individuals and their loved ones keeps the family unit strong, easing the transition process into the community. Improving visitation practices and providing more effective assistance to family members are imperative components of a successful reentry.
- Strengthened Parole Practices: Parole officers must be given the resources to provide meaningful supervision to individuals who are leaving confinement. This will ensure that those they supervise are not merely complying with parole conditions, but also becoming and remaining productive, self-sufficient community members.
- Strengthened Reentry Programs and Coordination: Community-based reentry providers must be sufficiently resourced to expand providers where needed, reduce time lapses between release and treatment, reduce staff turnover, and improve information referral networks. Local reentry providers must also coordinate with the state’s Reentry Task Force to assist in identifying best practices, gaps, and recommendations for improvement.
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