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Further The Work

Further Knowledge: On Criminal Justice & Reentry

May 14, 2010

Dear Lori,

It will surely come as no surprise to you when I say that issues of violence, incarceration, and recidivism are of enormous consequence - social, civic, and economic - in the city of Richmond and in West Contra Costa County as a whole. The revolving door between neighborhood and prison disrupts the rhythm of daily life in our community, and adds to the perception of Richmond as a city with violence woven into its fabric.

To help advance the conversation about the cycle of reentry and recidivism, we at Further The Work are pleased to announce our new research monograph, entitled A Closer Look: Issues of Violence, Incarceration & Reentry in Richmond, CA, developed in cooperation with Insight Prison Project. Click here to download the monograph.

High rates of recidivism across the country confirm the common experience: incarceration provides no sufficient deterrent to criminal behavior. As our monograph details, a recent study of recidivism rates in California found that 52% of prison parolees released in 2006 were returned to prison within two years; in Contra Costa County, the rate of recidivism was even higher, with 62% of state parolees returned to prison within two years.

Hands holding prison barsThis cycle of recidivism and incarceration takes an overwhelming toll, as measured in new victims, disrupted and traumatized families, extended incarceration, chronically overburdened and inadequate criminal justice systems, and destabilized communities.

In response to the emerging understanding of the challenges facing reentering individuals, their families, and their communities, the federal government has begun to assemble and fund a wealth of resources to help improve community safety and stability. Substantial, multiyear funding through the Second Chance Act, coupled with new information portals such as the National Reentry Resource Center and the Office of Justice Programs, exemplify the coordinated efforts to address reentry and recidivism issues. Together, this host of resources offers real hope that we can improve reentry services and reduce recidivism both locally and nationally.

In our own backyard, Contra Costa County has recently developed the Reentry Planning Initiative, a county-wide collaboration of county government, law enforcement, correctional facilities, county probation and parole departments, formerly incarcerated people, community-based service organizations, consultants, and funders. Initiated and overseen by County Supervisors John Gioia and Federal Glover, and supported by funding from The California Endowment, RPI is now completing a comprehensive strategic plan to coordinate reentry efforts county-wide.

Boy at brick wallWe are offering this monograph free of charge to stakeholders throughout our community - municipal, nonprofit, civic, corporate, and individual - in the hope that it may support both our individual efforts and our collective endeavors. Just click here to download the monograph as a pdf.

We welcome your thoughts; join the conversation on our new forum, Further Thoughts, here.

Best to all,
Rebecca's signature
Rebecca Brown, MA, CFA, CFRE
President, Further The Work

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