Prison Law Blog

Sara Mayeux

Posts Tagged ‘reentry programs

Remembering David Lewis, Leader in Outreach to Former Prisoners

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Many in East Palo Alto and surrounding areas are shocked and heartbroken today after learning of the death of David Lewis, 54, a leader in the community and a national model for outreach to former prisoners. Lewis spent much of his young adult life as an inmate in California prisons but after his release in 1991, at age 35, he spent the rest of his adult life helping prisoners like himself to break the cycle of drug addiction and incarceration. At a time when East Palo Alto had the highest per capita murder rate in the country, Lewis and Stanford student Priya Haji established Free At Last, a community-based treatment center for drug and alcohol addiction. Lewis received national recognition for his work to build a statewide network of support for parolees and ex-offenders, and was featured in the Bill Moyers documentary “Circle of Recovery.” Local news coverage here. (UPDATE: More local coverage here, SF Chronicle article here.)

Written by sara

June 10, 2010 at 1:39 pm

“Kansas’ model parole program collapses with state budget cuts”

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That’s the unfortunate headline of this report from the Kansas City Star. By pouring resources in recent years into mental health care, job training, and community residential services for parolees, Kansas became a national model for reentry programming and achieved a 2% recidivism rate — something California, with its recidivism rate nearing 70%, would surely envy. (OK, it’s not that easy to directly compare recidivism rates across states since they may treat parole violators and record data differently, but I think it’s fair to assume that California’s rate is much, much higher than Kansas’s under any measure.)

As the article notes, when Congress passed the Second Chance Act in 2008, the idea was to provide states with block grants so that they could imitate Kansas; now, Kansas itself may have to start applying for grants. Gov. Mark Perkinson’s budget recommendations for the next fiscal year would reduce the allocation for reentry programs to just $5.3 million (from $12.6 million two years ago). These cuts are just part of a broader set of measures that could negatively impact the Kansas criminal justice system for years to come:

It is too early to know how program cuts, both inside and outside prison walls, may affect future recidivism rates, or even overall public safety, corrections officials say. But they already face a new penal landscape, as about $25 million has been chopped from the corrections budget since 2008.

Last year, four minimum-security units were shut down, many inmates were routed to tighter quarters, and treatment and education programs lost more than half their funding. …

Gone from most Kansas communities are the structured group-living arrangements that provided offenders a bed, counseling and supervision while they sought full-time work or fought off addictions.

Upcoming Event: Three Perspectives on Race and Incarceration

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This Thursday, Feb. 4, Stanford Law School will host a panel entitled “Three Perspectives on Race and Incarceration” (free and open to public with RSVP at link above):

Why are people of color—African American males in particular—grossly over-represented in prisons and in jails relative to the numbers in the U.S. population? What happens to them in prison? What happens when they get out? The purpose of this panel is to examine the causes and consequences of racial disparities in imprisonment from three different vantage points. Professor Steven Raphael will discuss the relationship between criminal justice policies and racial disparities in imprisonment. Filmmaker Tamara Perkins will discuss a new documentary she is developing which tells the stories of black men in San Quentin State Prison. Finally, Chief Ronald Davis will discuss a re-entry program he has developed in collaboration with Free At Last in East Palo Alto.

Written by sara

February 1, 2010 at 3:05 pm

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