First Year Progress Report
Ensuring to the greatest degree possible that offenders are successful after their release from custody serves a fundamental public safety interest for Oregon’s communities. The successful reintegration of offenders returning from custody requires the efforts of multiple state and local agencies. No single agency can accomplish this goal. Our long- term commitment to public safety requires that we address this issue through focused leadership and action.
Recognizing the importance and complexity of this task, the Governor created the Re-entry Council in May 0f 2007. The Council met initially in November, 2008 and continues to meet quarterly.
- The Council membership includes:
- The Chair of the Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision
- The Director of the Department of Human Services
- The Director of the Employment Department
- The Director of Oregon Housing and Community Services
- The Director of the Veteran’s Department
- The Administrator of the Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division
- The Director of the Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development
- Senator Vicki Walker
- Representative Kevin Cameron
- The Oregon Association of Community Corrections Directors
- The Oregon State Sheriff's Association
- The Oregon District Attorneys Association The Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
- The Oregon Judicial Department
- The Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police
- Social service providers that concentrate on offenders' transition
First Year Achievements
Council Organization and Participation
The Council agreed to focus initial work in four priority areas: employment, housing, continuity of health and mental health care, and re-entry resource centers. Work groups were then convened with subject matter experts in each of the four areas to assess barriers and develop strategies to address those barriers. To date, over 100 individuals from both the private and public sector have joined together to work on the successful transition of people moving from incarceration to community living. This work is unfolding as a true collaboration, with only about a quarter of the participants representing the corrections system. The others represent other state agencies and such diverse interests as local service providers, employers, health care experts, and landlords.
Communication and Education
The Governor’s Re-Entry Council has a web site so that the work of the Council can be shared with Oregonians.
Both judiciary committees, along with the Public Safety Strategies Task Force, hosted a special hearing to learn more about state and national initiatives to improve success following incarceration.
Statewide Transition Network
A new statewide network was formed, including prison-based and community corrections-based individuals working on re-entry and transition. The purpose of the network is to improve release planning and information sharing. The Network set these goals:
- Improve the content of release plans
- Create consistent processes for reach-ins
- Create a process to deliver information at intake about conditions of supervision
- Offer a training so that people know how to find information in the electronic case files and also guidelines for entering information into the electronic case notes.
The Department of Corrections and the Department of Human Services worked together to streamline the process of getting Oregon birth certificates to people prior to release from prison.
The Social Security Administration and the Department of Corrections have signed a Memorandum of Understanding so that replacement social security cards can be provided to people prior to release.
The DOC and the DMV began a pilot program in which inmates are transported to the DMV so that they can be issued state photo ID cards prior to release.
The DOC now offers a transition curriculum in all regional release facilities. Topics include employment skills, success on supervision, family relationships, financial management, and being a good renter.
A faith-based re-entry curriculum has been introduced within DOC prisons. This program is designed to assist participants prepare for the challenges and opportunities of reentry by tapping into the sacred stories, teachings, and traditions of their own faith.
A new gender specific cognitive change/reentry program for women was begun in 2008. Each participant completes a minimum of 197 curriculum hours. Programming includes 3-hours of facilitated class and 1-hour for homework for days per week for six months. Transition planning is an important component of the program.
Services to Veterans
All veterans known to the DOC are contacted by ODVA prior to release so that the array of services available to veterans can be made available during transition.
Continuity of Health and Mental Health Care
The DOC improved internal processes to assure that all people leaving prison have a 30 day supply of necessary medications.
A prequalification process has been put into place through a cooperative effort between Seniors and People with Disabilities (DHS) and the DOC so that those who may qualify for federal benefits at release can begin receiving them immediately at the time of release.
Increased Opportunities for Education
Scholarships for college courses are available from the private Chemeketa Foundation for men housed at OSP and OSCI. Eighty-one students have participated in college courses in 07-08; 59 were supported by scholarships and an additional 22 were self-funded.
Employment kiosks, with information provided by the Department of Employment, have been installed in each of the regional reentry prisons to assist inmates in looking for work prior to release.
Sponsors Inc. submitted and received funding from Oregon Housing and Community Services for $4.4 million to create new transitional housing for offenders in Lane County. The grant will bring 45 new units of housing and 62 additional transition beds into the community.
Reentry Service Sites
An Oregon model for one stop Transition Service Center was approved by the Council. An array of services that should be available at the service site was defined. The services themselves may or may not be physically located together, but access to these services should be facilitated from a single location. Case management is the method by which service coordination will be accomplished.
Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision Revised Conditions of Release
Members of the Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision reviewed the conditions of supervision they impose at the time of release from custody, working with community corrections and DOC partners and a national expert on evidence-based practices and parole. The conditions have been revised so that they focus on the most important requirements and so that they support successful reentry.
DOC Agency Reorganization
Release counselors working in DOC institutions have been moved into a specialized unit within the department to better focus their work on transition planning and community reintegration.