View Full Version : Group hopes to reduce recidivism rate by 80 percent

10-20-2004, 08:59 PM

Posted on Sun, Oct. 17, 2004
JACKSON, Miss. - A group of law enforcement, education and social service officials has teamed up to help people recently released from prison or jail successfully re-enter their communities.

"We're looking at them becoming taxpayers and not a tax burden on the community," said Barbara Lee, division director for prerelease/alcohol and drugs at the State Penitentiary at Parchman.

The Mississippi Collaborative Interagency Reentry Team formed a few months ago to help provide services for Going Home, a re-entry initiative for serious and violent offenders that began in May 2003. The program is part of a national effort funded by a $2.6 million U.S. Department of Justice grant.

The purpose of Going Home is to reduce the recidivism rate by 80 percent, said Gail Smith, Mississippi Department of Corrections branch director for the adult side of the program.

About 25 percent of prisoners released from MDOC between Nov. 1, 2000, and Oct. 31, 2001, returned in less than three years, MDOC records show.

Nationally, about 50 to 60 percent of people return to prison during that period, said Jimmy Bell, executive director of the Center for the Study of Juvenile Delinquency and Prevention at Jackson State University.

Going Home provides high school equivalency and adult literacy courses, alcohol and drug classes, vocational training, counseling and life-skills programs, and faith-based mentoring in three phases.

These initiatives are designed to help ensure participants know how to live in the free world.

"They paid their dues. We want to make this transition a good one where they're back in the community doing good," Smith said. "They're fathers, uncles and brothers, and I don't want anyone to put them in a position of reliving their past."

As a team member, Jackson State will assess whether the intervention strategies are effective, said Bell, a criminal justice professor.

"The benefits to the inmates or offenders are only secondary," he said. "The real issue is making the community safe."

Two-year colleges play a role in helping Going Home participants through pre-employment training and with other educational assistance, said team member Dexter Holloway, director of work-force education with the state Board for Community and Junior Colleges.

"Either we try to get them employed, or they're going back in or they're going to do something in our community," Holloway said.

The program targets 14- to 17-year-old males from Hinds, Madison, Rankin and Warren counties who have been sent to the Mississippi Youth Corrections Complex, known as Oakley Training School, at least twice, Smith said.

Those counties were chosen because of their high recidivism rates, she said. Figures were not available from MDOC for those counties.

Going Home also targets males ages 20 to 35 from the metro area who have been convicted of violent offenses including homicide, robbery, sexual assault, arson or sale of a controlled substance, Smith said.


Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, (

10-21-2004, 08:46 AM
This is very important..THANKS!!! ANYTHING to reduce recidivism !!!


10-21-2004, 10:58 AM