The Allegheny County Jail Collaborative has received a third year of funding in the amount of $1.2 million under the U.S. Department of Justice Second Chance Act Demonstration Programs to support the Allegheny County Reentry Initiative begun in 2010.
The Jail Collaborative is a cooperative effort of the County Jail, Department of Human Services, Health Department and Court of Common Pleas. It was formed in 1999 with the purpose of improving public safety, reducing recidivism, and increasing success for inmates following incarceration.
“Allegheny County is committed to putting an end to the cycle of crime and incarceration that too many in our community find themselves in,” said Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “The Allegheny County Jail Collaborative has a proven track record of reducing recidivism by giving inmates the tools they need to succeed after incarceration.
“The Department of Justice funding will enable us to continue our efforts to reduce repeated crime, which not only improve the lives of former inmates, but also save taxpayer dollars and make our communities safer.”
The year-three award, which is an increase of $ 370,000 over the second year’s $800,000 award, will also be used to support Allegheny County’s participation in a national cross-site evaluation conducted by the Bureau of Justice Assistance and National Institute of Justice of the seven reentry projects funded under the Second Chance Act program. Involvement in the evaluation process will enable Allegheny County to share the impact of its programs and services with the rest of the country and to learn from the experiences of others.
Through the Reentry Initiative, the jail has expanded inmate rehabilitation programs both in the facility and in the community. It has also further developed initial assessments of an inmate’s risk level and needs during booking to target services or programs that may be beneficial to reintegration into society.
Reentry initiative participants have a designated team consisting of a reentry specialist (service coordinator), family support specialist and reentry probation office liaison. The team assists the inmate with obtaining education, job training, and housing after release, as well as support services for up to a year.
A reentry housing unit and new reentry center for in-jail classes and programs have also been created.
“Being in a position now to have our services evaluated independently will not only allow us to share our experiences, but to learn from other areas of the country as well. This should greatly improve chances for successful reintegration and make our community a safer place,” said Allegheny County Human Services Director Marc Cherna, one of the leaders of the Jail Collaborative.