READING―Governor Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro today in Reading announced the Pennsylvania Reentry Council’s (PARC) efforts to support reentering citizens as well as recommendations for enhancing the successful entry of returning citizens. PARC, which was founded in 2017, is a collaborative organization bringing together government agencies, service providers, advocates, returning citizens, and other stakeholders from across the Commonwealth.
In the report, PARC noted that returning citizens often have limited access to housing, employment, social services, mental and physical healthcare (including substance use disorder treatment), education, and family services―all of which contribute to Pennsylvania’s 67 percent recidivism rate.
“Thank you to the Reentry Council members and Attorney General Shapiro for their time and commitment to support Pennsylvanians reentering their communities and our workforce,” Gov. Wolf said. “I have proposed $12 million in my 2020-21 budget to address the barriers those facing reentry have when integrating into society. We know that investments in training and apprenticeship programs helps our reentrants get the second chance they deserve to become successful members of their communities and our strong Pennsylvania workforce.”
“The purpose of the Pennsylvania Reentry Council is, ultimately, to serve as a centralized and statewide resource for counties that want a roadmap for their own reentry programs,” said AG Shapiro. “The best thing we can do is provide real support and real opportunities―we want to keep the rate of recidivism down, but just as importantly, we want to help these individuals succeed and have a positive impact on their communities. I thank the Governor for investing in this important initiative.”
PARC’s report includes 37 recommendations across a wide range of service needs, including:
- Treating substance use disorder upon release, when continuation of treatment for individuals with substance use disorder is crucial for improving the likelihood of success for returning citizens, and decreasing the rate of re-incarceration in Pennsylvania
- Advocating for continuity of care for physical, mental health, and substance use disorder treatment needs for returning citizens, with the understanding that often individuals suffering from substance abuse disorder also have a co-occurring mental health or trauma history. A lack of access to healthcare can hinder, or even exacerbate, the recidivism rate in Pennsylvania.
- Making it easier for returning citizens to find stable housing. Recommendations include creating legislation to protect Pennsylvanians with a criminal record―including those who have served their entire sentence and have been released—from housing discrimination, and establishing landlord incentives like tax credits to help encourage them to rent to returning citizens.
- Establishing a state-wide internet platform to provide reentering citizens, judges, corrections officials, probation and parole officers, and others with access to available services for reentering citizens across the Commonwealth.
In addition to the important work of convening key stakeholders, PARC has facilitated significant advancement in reentry services in Pennsylvania, including:
- Increasing the number of county-based reentry coalitions, which enhance identification of local needs and better allocate scarce resources, from 21 to 30.
- Working with PennDOT to launch pilot programs in county jails to help get individuals licenses or other state-issued identification prior to release
- Partnering with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) to create a program offering special consideration to housing developers who create accommodations for returning citizens, in addition to PHFA’s creation of a program that offers job training in construction to returning citizens.
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