Orange County is finding of plenty of success stories when it comes to helping inmates set for release adjust to a life that isn’t behind bars, which ensures they will not reoffend and end up back in prison. A county grand jury report has applauded the Inmate Re-Entry Unit’s pre-release programs, which involves an after-release support center and life coaches so that inmates (especially high-risk) receive assistance in finding a job and housing. This Sheriff’s Department unit was first created back in 2006 and for an example of its success, a total of 148 out of 1,606, (or 9.2 percent) of the former Orange County inmates who participated in the Inmate Re-Entry Unit program reoffended in the past six months. This is notable because inmates who participate, then their chances of staying out of trouble greatly increases. The OC Register summarizes parts of the program as follows:
“Resources are dedicated to helping keep those at the highest risk of committing more crimes. Civilian life coaches also use an inmate’s background, including substance abuse, education, housing information and employment history, to help plot a path back into society. Once inmates are out on their own, they can use the Great Escape Resource Center in Santa Ana to get help finding and keeping a job, along with referrals for housing, domestic violence shelters, and other community resources. The center, founded in January 2007, provides coordinators to act as a go-between between prospective employers and the former inmate, evaluating skills, work history and reliability and monitoring progress.”
The jury’s report makes two key recommendations after studying the unit: one, additional funding is required to support the re-entry program; second; public awareness needs to be increased so that people understand the value of programs in reducing recidivism.
Read the entire grand jury report here.