Contract recommended to provide jail inmate reentry services

Cornell Cooperative Extension will help inmates in their reentry process once they are released from Tompkins County Jail.

The Tompkins County Legislature’s Public Safety Committee recommended earlier this month that the county contract with CCE of Tompkins County to provide coordinated reentry services for inmates of the Tompkins County Jail. The committee unanimously recommended that County Administrator Joe Mareane be authorized to execute the one-year contract with Cooperative Extension, to take effect as of September 7.

As part of an extensive review of the County’s alternatives-to-incarceration programs, the County’s Criminal Justice/Alternatives to Incarceration Board developed the Tompkins County Reentry Plan, presented last fall, to more effectively transition inmates from the jail back into the community – the goal to reduce recidivism rates, reducing the jail population over time. The recommended contract will support those coordinated, direct inmate reentry services.

The Legislature, as part of the 2016 budget, appropriated $100,000 in ongoing funding to support the reentry program – approximately $75,000 for reentry coordination and grant-writing services (to seek outside funding to support reentry), and approximately $25,000 to expand educational programming at the Probation Department’s Day Reporting Center through existing contracts.

CCE director Ken Schlather told the committee the reentry program, to be carried forth by two part-time co-coordinators, will also draw upon the larger resources of CCE, focusing on the families of the people in reentry, as well as the reentering individuals themselves. It will work closely with organizations including Opportunities, Alternatives and Resources and the Ultimate Reentry Opportunity, which is also housed at CCE.

One of the two coordinators, Davi Mozie (who, along with Lisa Ellin, will manage the program and provide direct coordination services) told the committee, “Reentry starts when a person is inside” and appropriate services and family connections must be addressed at that early stage.

A member of CJATI’s subcommittee, the Jail Alternatives Task Force, Mozie enters the position with more than a decade of experience in reentry as part of the criminal justice system for the State of Delaware. Her work in Tompkins County includes past service with the Human Services Coalition and as Interim Director of Ithaca’s Southside Community Center.

“CCE will provide two highly experienced staff who will coordinate reentry services for Tompkins County jail inmates before, during, and after their release,” CJATI chair Suzi Cook noted in a briefing memo to the committee. “The partnerships that CCE has with more than 700 businesses and organizations, including the resources already identified, such as OAR, URO, and BOCES, will be coordinated to strengthen both the individuals in reentry who want to change their lives and the reentry system itself.”