State Announces Plans to Help Inmates Reenter Community

March 23, 2019, 2:00 PM HST (Updated March 22, 2019, 2:28 PM)
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Bunks at Kulani Correctional Facility. DPS photo.

The State Department of Public Safety (PSD) and Reentry Commission (RC) have completed two plans to help men and women released from prison transition back into their communities.

Called the 2019 Comprehensive Offender Reentry Plan (CORP), the strategy includes four phases of reentry, six areas of focus and a total of 51 reentry strategies. The four reentry phases are intake, prison and jail planning, transition and release planning, and parole and post-release.

“The Reentry Commission was established to work with PSD to monitor and review its reentry programs and to ensure that the comprehensive offender reentry system is implemented; to guide the work, a strategic plan was necessary,” said Toni Bissen, co-chair of the commission. “The key is to work together, only together as State and Community can we bring about reentry success in Hawai‘i, and the completion of both plans demonstrate the effectiveness of collaboration.”

According to PSD, the goal of CORP is to build a successful reentry process by ensuring guidelines for the reentry system are followed correctly, while making recommendations for improvements to existing programs.

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The CORP includes six areas of focus for reentry:

  1. Support for victims
  2. Public safety
  3. Housing
  4. Health care
  5. Education, employment and vocational training
  6. Family and community support

“Over the past several years, the Public Safety Department has developed a reentry foundation that will continue to adapt and change with implementation of evidence-based practices,” said Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda. “Successful offender reentry comes with significant challenges that will require a collective effort from PSD, other agencies, and various community service providers. The Reentry Coordination Office will work to enlist the help and commitment from these other agencies, and community and faith-based organizations to build lasting connections and community partnerships.”

The Reentry Commission issued its 2017-2020 Strategic Plan which identified six actionable areas and opportunities to carry out its mandate in partnership with PSD. These include:

  1. Regularly monitor and evaluate key performance measures;
  2. Review and advocate for PSD initiatives to develop more inmate-centric reentry assessment programs;
  3. Review and advocate for staff support and training to implement the Comprehensive Offender Reentry System;
  4. Review and encourage PSD efforts to develop community partnership opportunities to increase employment and housing options for ex-offenders;
  5. Review and advocate for PSD efforts and partnerships to return out-of-state inmates;
  6. Encourage and advocate for community awareness and education initiatives.

View the full CORP and RCSP strategic plan guidelines here.

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