Saturday, August 04, 2007
To The Queens City (Manchester, N.H) what a great effort for Implementing a program with an access to a drug and alcohol treatment, mental health, employment, housing, life skills and other training services for the Sexual predators and violent criminals.
Do you believe this is a reward for the criminals or another way to drain our taxpayers money or Do you believe that they should be rehabilitated?
Effort to prevent repeat offenders gets boost
By Garry Rayno
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
MANCHESTER – The Queen City may soon be the site of a pilot program to reduce the number of youthful offenders who return to jail.
Last month the Hillsborough County Delegation's Executive Committee voted 18-1 to approve a $680,000 federal grant to fund the two-year pilot program, which was developed by the Government Leader's Re-entry Task Force. The county commissioners had already approved the project.
The "Re-entry Project" will be overseen by the Hillsborough County Attorney's Office in collaboration with the state departments of Justice and Corrections and the U.S. Department of Justice.
County Attorney Marguerite Wageling said the program is only for parolees who already have ties to Manchester and not for inmates who want to relocate to the city in order to participate. "This should be a very positive thing for Manchester," she said.
At the request of state Sen. and Ward 2 Alderman Ted Gatsas, Wageling will discuss the program with the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen at its meeting Tuesday.
Gatsas said, "We need to find out the particulars of what the county attorney is trying to do." He said there are a lot of questions that need to be answered, such as if there will be a half-way house and what kind of inmates would be involved.
City Police Chief John Jaskolka will also appear to talk about the program, at the request of board chairman Mike Lopez. Jaskolka helped develop the proposal as a member of the re-entry task force.
Mayor Frank Guinta's public policy adviser, Mark Laliberte, said the mayor does not have doubts about the project, noting Jaskolka is on the task force that put together the proposal.
The program would be open to about 100 parolees a year -- male and female inmates between the ages of 17 and 35.
According to information on the project from the Hillsborough County Attorney's Office, sexual and violent offenders are a priority of the project.
Inmates will be referred to the program based on individual assessments by a "re-entry team" consisting of a case manager, licensed alcohol drug abuse counselor and a mental health professional.
"It is anticipated that no less than 85 percent of these participants will have substance abuse issues and a significant percentage of these will be dually diagnosed with mental health and substance abuse issues," according to the information from Wageling.
Once in the community, the case manager will meet with the parolee at least once a week for the first year, and stay in contact with the person's parole officer.
The parolees would be able to access drug and alcohol treatment, mental health, employment, housing, life skills and other training services that are already available in the community.
Wageling said case workers will work with the parolees to ensure they continue to take their medications and attend substance abuse counselling if that is included in their release plan.
The two-year program will be fully funded by a federal grant overseen by the county attorney's office. "If things are not working, we have a short window," Wageling said. "If we are not seeing improvements, we will adopt different policies."
Program staff is expected to include a director, assistant director, three case managers, a part-time licensed drug alcohol counselor, a part-time mental health professional and a secretary.
A 2000 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates 62 percent of offenders released from prison are expected to be arrested again within three years and 41 percent will be returned to prison, according to information from the county attorney. A more recent study shows a 67 percent recidivism rate with 50 percent returning to jail.
According to the state Department of Corrections' 2006 Annual Report, 40 percent of the prison population is behind bars for violating parole: the largest single group of prisoners.