<���Someone To Listen���: Mental Health Professionals, Not Deputies, Will Soon Respond To Behavioral Crises In Denver���s Jails>
The more than 8,500 people who leave Colorado prisons every year often step back into society with only a bus pass and a small sack of belongings.
But that’s not an effective way to help people transition to stable, law-abiding lives outside of prison walls, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said Tuesday.
“That is a dangerous situation in every sense of the word,” he said. “That’s a danger to the person and to the community.”
Weiser and other top state criminal justice leaders on Tuesday announced the creation of a $1.1 million grant that will help connect people leaving prison to jobs that will help them stabilize and avoid committing another crime.
Officials hope building a better “prison-to-employment pathway” will reduce recidivism in a state where nearly half of all people leaving prison later return — and simultaneously help employers find workers in a time when many are struggling to find workers.
“Men and women who leave prison with a job, who have money in their pocket that they made while in prison working a job, who have social connections, who have a future ahead of them, who have a hope ahead of them, are better neighbors for all of us,” Department of Corrections Executive Director Dean Williams said.
The Department of Corrections will receive $900,000 to build a network of employers who will hire people leaving prison and to provide those employers with support. The department will also receive $200,000 in grants to give to community organizations that help people leaving prison.
The announcement comes as violent crime rates continue to grow in Colorado, outpacing the national violent crime rate every year since 2018, FBI data shows. That was the first year Colorado’s crime rate has exceeded the national rate since the FBI started collecting crime data in 1985, though the 2020 Colorado violent crime rate of 423 crimes per 100,000 people is far lower than rates recorded in the early 1990s.h2 data-curated-ids="4806556,4810881,4781284" data-relation-type="curated"">
- > U.S. prisons face staff shortages as officers quit amid COVID
- > Denver jails offer free noodles and coffee to inmates as incentive to vaccinate
- > “Someone to listen”: Mental health professionals, not deputies, will soon respond to behavioral crises in Denver’s jails
Nineteen percent of people who left prison in 2017 returned to prison for committing a new crime by 2020 and 26% returned for violating conditions of their release, creating a three-year recidivism rate of 45%, according to Colorado Division of Criminal Justice statistics.
The grant money will help the Department of Corrections and the Latino Coalition for Community Leadership reach business owners and provide training and resources to help them hire formerly incarcerated people. It will also support nonprofit organizations already helping people reintegrate after leaving prisons, like Second Chance Center in Aurora.
“My struggle to find employment after being released almost 16 years ago has been the rule and not the exception,” said Hassan Latif, the center’s founder and executive director. “Much has changed, thankfully, yet so many barriers and limited options still remain.”
Drew Patterson, owner of wood stake manufacturer Basic Industries, said employing men incarcerated at the Buena Vista Correctional Complex has changed his perspective on people in prison. The men have been valuable employees and Patterson encouraged other business owners to consider hiring people involved in the justice system.
“It’s been a huge thing for me personally and an amazing thing for my company,” Patterson said.
Source : https://www.denverpost.com/2021/11/10/prison-jobs-crime-prevention/651