Reentry and resettlement for ex-offenders

Prison. Community Corrections. Probation.

Getting ready. Going Home. Staying Home.

Public Safety. Reducing Crime.

These are the guideposts of Gov. John Carney’s Delaware Correctional Reentry Commission established by executive order four months ago.

As chair and vice chair of the Commission, we are working with leaders in the State Departments of Correction, Education, Labor and Delaware State Housing Authority, along with the judges, criminal justice experts, correctional officers, social service providers, the business community, legislators and ex-offenders to reduce our state’s high rate of released offenders who return to criminal behavior.

Our goal is simple: released offenders will have the education, training and services they need to resettle in our neighborhoods — with a place to live, work and reunite with their families as productive contributors to our communities.

To get there, we are working on a series of reforms — some that build upon reentry efforts dating back 20 years in our state — and other evidence-based programs that are working in neighboring states. With Gov. Carney’s executive order, six state agencies are focused on how to better coordinate education, job training, drug treatment, mental health counseling, healthcare, housing, social services and peer support for offenders while in prison through work-release programs, integration back into our communities and aftercare once resettled.

April was recognized nationally as “Second Chance Month” marking the 11th anniversary of President George W. Bush signing the Second Chance Act into law, which provided states federal grants to help reduce recidivism and improve outcomes for people reentering to our communities after serving their prison sentence.

In the four months since Gov. Carney established the Delaware Correctional Reentry Commission, dozens of people are engaged in coordinated initiatives to improve behavioral health, education, employment, housing, case management, data sharing and community support services for offenders as they move from prison to probation to home.

We have set aggressive timelines to show progress toward our objectives, with our first report due to the governor at the end of this year and the final report due by Dec. 31, 2020.

Adam Balick, Esq. is a former deputy attorney general and chairman of the Delaware Correctional Reentry Commission. James Elder is chief of community corrections for the Delaware Department of Correction and the commission’s vice chair.

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