Committee approves funds for jail re-entry program

The Public Safety Committee of the Tompkins County Legislature has recommended allocating $100,000 from the Contingent Fund to the Department of Probation and Community Justice to implement a re-entry plan for inmates of the Tompkins County Jail.
 
The re-entry plan, advanced by the County’s Criminal Justice/Alternatives to Incarceration Board (CJATI) after more than a year of intensive study, was presented to the committee last month.
Following up a larger review in 2014 of the County’s broad range of alternatives-to-incarceration services, CJATI’s Reentry Subcommittee last fall had recommended that a more robust and coordinated reentry program be developed, to help released inmates access the county’s many services and ease their transition back into the community, contributing to reduced rates of recidivism.
 
As part of the 2016 budget, the legislature set aside $100,000 in ongoing “target” contingent funding to be available for specific program accounts upon receipt of a defined reentry plan from CJATI.
 
The plan calls for contracting through a non-profit organization for approximately $65,000 in case management services, through a Re-entry Coordinator—such such services as contact with incarcerated inmates, identifying clients, offering program services, conducting risk and needs assessment, and discharge planning; as well as providing outreach to participants upon release. $25,000 would support enhanced contractual services for GED and Life Skills training through the Day Reporting Program, to accommodate the expected increase in client numbers due to reentry participation. $10,000 is targeted for a grant writer to leverage local dollars and pursue supplemental funding sources for the Reentry Program from throughout the country.
 
Once the Contingent Fund appropriation is approved by the full Legislature, a Request for Proposals will be issued to support implementation of the Reentry Plan.
 
The full Reentry Plan is posted for review at the CJATI page of the County website at http://www.tompkinscountyny.gov/ctyadmin/CJATI.
 
In other Public Safety Committe business, Undersheriff Brian Robison and Captain Ray Bunce reported that the New York State Commission of Corrections performance review of the Tompkins County Jail has been successfully completed, with the Commission approving extension of the jail’s 18-bed variances beyond the facility’s 82-bed capacity.
 
Extension, however, is for a period of 60 days, rather than the usual six months, with the caution that the county will need to have a plan to increase capacity if the variances are to be sustained..