Rep. Karen Bass (D-37), Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX), and Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) recently introduced the One Stop Shop Community Reentry Program Act to create resource centers to support people transitioning from incarceration and connect them with the services they need to reintegrate into their communities.
The bill will help reduce instances of reoffence by providing grants to community-based organizations and other eligible entities to create Community Reentry Centers supporting formerly incarcerated people.
According to a U.S. Sentencing Commission report, the average national recidivism rate is 49.3 percent over eight years, in part because many people do not have access to resources like medical care, housing, and ID cards when they are released from prison. The purpose of the One Stop Shop Community Reentry Program Act is to create Community Reentry Centers that will reduce the chance of reoffence by making these basic resources available in one location to individuals who would otherwise not have access to those resources.
“The expectation that individuals are successful and won’t re-offend after being given $10 and a bus ticket is absolutely ridiculous,” said Bass. “Eighty-five percent of incarcerated individuals are eventually released. Our society presents countless obstacles for individuals who have already paid their debts to society: it’s harder for them to find jobs, it’s harder for them to find housing, and it’s harder for them to be able to pay for a quality education.
“These obstacles without adequate resources make it more likely for people to re-offend,” Bass added.
“As a former prosecutor, I have seen firsthand how people can struggle when they are released from prison because they do not have access to the tools they need to succeed,” said Klobuchar. “This bipartisan legislation would help reduce the chance that people transitioning from incarceration will re-offend by creating resource centers to coordinate access to job training, medical and mental health services, and financial counseling.”
“Newly-released offenders often aren’t aware of the resources available to them and struggle to find jobs, housing, and mental health services,” said Cornyn. “This legislation would provide grants for community organizations to set up Community Re-entry Centers to help former inmates get back on their feet.”
The One Stop Shop Community Reentry Program Act would create Community Reentry Centers providing:
• Assistance with finding and maintaining employment
• Job skills training
• Assistance locating and retaining housing
• Help obtaining driver’s licenses and ID cards
• Assistance with applications for student loans and college admission
• Financial counseling
• Access to mobile phones and internet access
• Medical and mental health services
• Substance use disorder treatment
• Application or reactivation of professional and other licenses
• Legal assistance for:
• Record expungement
• Forfeiture of property or assets
• Family law and custody matters
• Legal Aid Services
• Family counseling
• General problem solving when maneuvering the court system, such as electronic monitoring compliance, court-ordered substance abuse, restrictions on living with certain family members.