WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to help prepare female ex-offenders for a smooth transition back into society, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) today announced that the Department of Justice has awarded the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RIDOC) $294,084 for its Prisoner Reentry Initiative.
The Prisoner Reentry Initiative (PRI) provides funding to state and local governments to develop and implement institutional and community corrections-based female offender reentry programs. The PRI strengthens urban communities characterized by large numbers of returning offenders. The program is designed to help prevent ex-convicts from returning to a life of crime by helping them find work and providing them access to critical services in their communities.
“This federal funding will allow the Rhode Island Department of Corrections to overhaul and strengthen its prisoner reentry program for women,” said Reed, a member of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees federal spending on the criminal justice system. “It is important that there is an infrastructure in place to offer guidance to female inmates who have served their time and are preparing to be released. Giving these women job-skill training, substance abuse treatment, and other support services will give them the opportunity to successfully transition back into society as law-abiding citizens. This is a sound investment in safeguarding our communities and reducing the chances that ex-offenders will become re-offenders.”
The Rhode Island Department of Corrections will use these funds to enhance vocational training for female inmates by expanding computer literacy and culinary arts training; expand the use of risk/needs assessment to all sentenced women; provide training on gender-responsive principles to all staff in the women’s prisons; and hire a Reentry Specialist who will provide community-based discharge planning/outreach services to the highest risk women during the critical period immediately following release from prison. The RIDOC plans to overhaul its current method of risk/need assessment by implementing a formal reentry policy.
“Female offenders tend to re-offend at high rates and, although their crimes are often non-violent, they churn through the system over and over, driving up costs and creating a host of other public safety issues. This grant gives us an opportunity to break the cycle and achieve better outcomes for offenders, their families, and the community at large,” stated Ashbel (A.T.) Wall II, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections.