Friday October 12, 2007
Mayor Jerry Abramson announced a program today to help recently released prisoners and jail inmates reintegrate into their community. The Newburg Justice Reinvestment (JRI) Pilot Project is designed to help remove barriers and promote public safety for those on probation or parole as they look for jobs, housing, and transportation in the Newburg community.
“We have found that as people return to their homes following a period of incarceration, they don’t have the necessary resources and assistance to help them become productive members of our community,” said Abramson. “Consequently, many of them return to the behaviors that sent them to prison in the first place. This program is unique because we’re focusing on both assisting individuals and engaging the community in the process.”
The Newburg JRI project will select 25 project participants over the next year. The participants may be released from either prison or jail and they must be returning home to an address in the Newburg community. The screening process for the initial participants is underway. Participants must have no record of sexual offenses, no crimes against children, and an acceptable behavior record while incarcerated. Participants must sign a contract outlining their responsibilities to the program.
The Louisville Metro Reentry Task Force, which will coordinate and oversee project implementation, is made up of local, state, and federal criminal justice agencies, elected officials, faith-based organizations, private employers and social service providers. The initial planning efforts began in spring 2003.
“The goal of the Task Force and pilot project is to reduce recidivism and enhance public safety by reducing crime,” said Steve Smith, executive director of the Louisville Metro Reentry Task Force.
Approximately 2000 individuals released from the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections during the last fiscal year returned to a Newburg address. Currently, about 200 people in Newburg are on probation or parole supervision. The project planners chose Newburg as a pilot site because the population of returning offenders tends to be younger, at higher risk, and better educated. The community also has established positive working relations with Probation and Parole and the Louisville Metro Police Department, and has been progressive in addressing community issues.
“Newburg is a tightly knit, caring community,” said Reverend Roosevelt Lightsy, Jr., a member of the Louisville Metro Reentry Task Force and associate pastor of Community Missionary Baptist Church. “We want our residents to be productive and we want our residents to be safe. This program really makes the community an active player in these offenders’ lives.”
The project attracted $50,000 in grant funds from the Open Society Institute, and is supplemented by Justice Assistance grant funds.
“This is a thoughtful, inclusive program that we believe will be held up as an example for other cities across the country,” said Abramson. “It makes the returning offenders accountable to their community, and it strengthens the community’s role in helping their returning residents adapt to a new way of life.”