One of the most important and fundamental aspects of an effective criminal justice system is proper reentry that ensures public safety is protected while successfully transitioning an offender from prison to the free world. To achieve these dual goals, two jurisdictions have adopted novel community-centered approaches to reentry.
In Detroit, with a program nicknamed “New Beginnings,” police officers serve as mentors to parolees, aiding offenders in job placement and arranging for community service and volunteerism opportunities. Police officers also focus on the old habits that put the parolees in prison in the first place, and coping mechanisms for their new lives, such as anger management techniques. The program participants hope that changing an offender’s attitude about law enforcement and helping him to see a police officer as an ally may increase the likelihood of desistance.
New Beginnings is an example of focusing reentry on both public safety, via supervision and daily contact with law enforcement, and successful transitioning, due to the job placement and mentoring.
In Cleveland, “Breaking the Cycle” focuses first and foremost on job placement. Given the evidence that demonstrates the correlation between high employment rates among ex-offenders and decreased recidivism rates, Cleveland’s focus on employment is well-placed. Further, Breaking the Cycle seeks to be realistic with offenders about what employers expect and the beliefs held about ex-offenders.
Both New Beginnings and Breaking the Cycle are community oriented reentry programs that go beyond the supervision usually found in parole programming and instead seek to put offenders to work and keep them out of prison for good.