State: $2 million in grants will help ex-cons re-enter community

349px-Seal_of_DelawareDOVER — Eighteen non-profit organizations will receive a total of $2 million to help juvenile and adult Delawareans successfully re-enter the community after completing prison sentences, the Delaware Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

The $2-million in funds are part of a $36 million settlement the Department of Justice reached with national banks relating to bank misconduct in the financial markets and is the largest state investment in community-based re-entry programs in at least a decade.

The funds were awarded to non-profit organizations by the Criminal Justice Council through a grant process, and the council will monitor the 18 organizations’ spending.

“Currently, about two-thirds of our inmates who exit the adult correction system are back in again within three years,” said Attorney General Matt Denn in the press release. “The numbers are even worse for juveniles. We know, from experience around the country and right here in Delaware, that good re-entry programs can reduce those numbers, and improve public safety.

“But good programs cost money,” he said, “and the state has never adequately invested in re-entry programs. This investment in community-based re-entry programs will allow these diverse programs to show what they can do, help many Delawareans avoid going back to prison, and give policymakers a basis for funding the programs over the long term.”

According to the release, the grants are divided between larger grants of up to $150,000, targeted at more established non-profit organizations, and smaller grants targeted at new or small non-profits.

Among the grant recipients:

• Brandywine Counseling and Community Services is budgeted to allow the organization to provide services to 50 juveniles per year who are preparing for release from juvenile detention facilities, and are judged to be at high risk to re-offend.

Under the program, a case worker from Brandywine Counseling can begin working with targeted juveniles 30 days before they are released from juvenile detention facilities, and continue working with them after release to ensure that they are re-enrolled in school, receive job training and appropriate health care.

Brandywine Counseling’s grant of $150,000 will pay for the costs of the program for two years.

• In Her Shoes, Inc., a non-profit organization formed in 2010 by a former correctional system employee that has operated to date with no paid staff, provides re-entry services to adult women released from the Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution.

A one-year grant of $25,000 to In Her Shoes is budgeted to allow the organization to sustain and expand its services to women released from Baylor by hiring its first part-time staff person.

• A grant to Interfaith Community Housing of Delaware will allow it to implement its new Homeworks Construction and Education Program.

Under this program, Interfaith Community Housing can collaborate with construction companies working on its Wilmington housing renovation projects to provide on-the-job, paid training to persons recently released from Delaware prisons. The grant of $100,000 will supplement a grant already received from the Delaware Department of Labor, and will fund the program for its first two years.

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