On Tuesday, March 24, 2009, State Representative Douglas McCrory (7th District) hosted an Inmate Re-Entry Informational Forum to discuss the current availability and effectiveness of the State of Connecticut’s offender/ex-offender programs. As a member of the Appropriations Committee and appointed Co-Chairman of the Judicial & Corrections Sub-Committee, Rep.McCrory wanted to hear from the public regarding how to better our current programs and services for inmates upon re-entry. It was an enlightening and educational discussion he believes should be shared with the public.
Those in attendance of the forum were either ex-offenders or program representatives. Dozens of testimony was given illustrating the flaws and successes the programs currently have in place. Both groups encompassed and overall theme...that an effective inmate re-entry program is essential to the future success of society as a whole. Changes must be made in order to improve the overall effectiveness of Connecticut's inmate re-entry policies. Rep. McCrory said, "I listened to testimony from former inmates who stated that it was the transitional period after being released that had the greatest impact on their lives. I believe being supervised and guided during the transition will not only create accountability but will ensure these individuals will have the help needed as they adapt to society."
In Connecticut, more than 95% of prison inmates leave prison and re-enter society. After paying their debt to society, it is vital to the safety and future growth of all Connecticut citizens that these individuals have a realistic and legitimate opportunity to lead a life absent of crime. Felony stigmas have long plagued former inmates in the job market. Rep. McCrory and his colleagues want to ensure that inmate re-entry programs are viable in the aspect of affording social skills, education and job placement that is vital for these men and women to perform in society. If successful, this will reduce recidivism, thus reducing crime and creating a safer environment.
There was also agreement to start the re-entry process upon incarceration. This will allow for more time to address the myriad of problems inmates must overcome in order to advance in society. Addictions and mental health problems are responsible for a majority of crimes committed. Once an inmate has begun the treatment process while incarcerated, this will allow them to focus on their life skills and job placement upon re-entry. In response to another concern raised during the forum was the matter of the issuance of state identification cards. Rep. McCrory would like to work with the Department of Corrections regarding inmates receiving a state issued ID Card upon release. This benefits law enforcement and would also be a great benefit for the inmate to begin the process of getting their lives back on track.
Rep. McCrory made it very clear that he acknowledges the difficulties of the many tasks mentioned. The solutions may appear to be simple and straight forward but the implementation process is very complicated. He will continue to work to find solutions towards the viability and success of inmate re-entry programs. The cost is too high financially and to important for the wellness and safety of society. "There are approximately 2,700 people from Hartford who are currently incarcerated." said Rep. Douglas McCrory. "It costs the state an estimate of $100,000,000/year to keep them in prison! What do you think Hartford could do with that money on a yearly basis?”
Reprinted with permission of the NorthEnd Agent's.
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