Monday, December 31, 2007

Reentry in AZ

Good reentry article from AZ where they’re trying some interesting new things.

In Arizona and across the country, a burgeoning number of people are being released from prison each year, the by-product of a 40-year trend of increased incarceration. In 2006, one in every 284 Americans was on parole. Nationwide, parole entries have crept up in every year except one since 2000. In Arizona, the number of felons on parole, called community supervision in this state, has more than doubled in the past 16 years. Arizona inmates typically serve 85 percent of their sentence behind bars and 15 percent on community supervision.

An Arizona Republic analysis of nearly 5,000 convicts on community supervision found they are living in virtually every Valley ZIP code, from the wealthiest in Paradise Valley to the poorest in central Phoenix.

With that come new efforts to help them become productive members of society. In Arizona, money now is being deducted from inmate wages to fund transition programs for certain drug offenders. Prison officials also are overhauling pre-release preparation and have launched a pilot program to better ease the transition for at least some of those coming out of prison. The programs already are showing promise, with early recidivism rates lower than state and national averages.

"Focusing on the sentence alone does not give our state all of the protection it deserves," said Dora Schriro, director of the Arizona Department of Corrections. "The sentence is a finite period of time, and then it's over. And when it's over, they come home. The question we should ask is: How do we want them? You don't just want them not committing new crimes. You want them civil and productive."
Corrections Director Schriro has been working for four years to transform Arizona prisons into a "parallel universe" where inmates engage full time in activities that mirror the outside world. Schriro said the goal is to make inmates successful "because we want the community to be safe.

"Re-entry preparation and support is part of that, and it starts with education, vocational training and substance-abuse counseling the moment a person is incarcerated.

Three initiatives show early signs of success:

• Level 1 beds for minimum-security inmates within two years of release have been opened at the Perryville, Tucson and Douglas prisons. Inmates who have earned their GEDs and completed work-based education and job training work full time during the days, then spend their evenings planning their transitions back to the community and taking classes on topics such as cultural diversity, parenting skills and conflict resolution. During fiscal 2006 and 2007, 1,588 men and women completed the program. Only 22, about 1.4 percent, have returned to prison with new felony charges. That is a dramatic decrease from the state's overall recidivism rate: 16.2 percent of inmates return to custody with a new felony conviction within two years of release. By the third year, the recidivism rate is nearly one in four. Nationwide, the recidivism rate for parolees was 16 percent in 2006.

• The Fast Track program, begun in September 2006, is geared toward minimum-custody inmates sentenced to fewer than six months in prison. The Fast Track units at Perryville and Florence immediately focus on discharge planning and try to instill "life-coping, get-along skills."

There also is a push to get a GED.

Arvizu, who is on his fourth stint in prison, said the small yard, individual attention from counselors and high expectations have made a difference.

No full-scale evaluation done yet apparently, but this kind of detail points toward a good one down the road. Likely to prove success to boot.

(h/t Crime and Justice News)


AZVisitor said...

It's been 4 years but nothing has yet been done. I've been visiting and AZ State Prisoner on Level 1 and 2 yards for the last 3 years and I have yet to see this "parallel universe" that I keep hearing about. All I see are power-hungry employees who nit-pick every little thing and seem to relish the idea of writing a ticket. I think this whole "parallel universe" thing is a sham.

Frank said...

ADOC has a policy where sex offenders who later make some other offense and re-enter the system are supposed to go to a sex offender yard. ADOC violated this policy and sent these two men to general population where they were beaten to death with padlocks in socks and kicked to death. There is a wrongful death lawsuit that has been filed with one of the men. The other is unknown. I am trying to the names of these men.