Federal grant fueling project to lower recidivism in Marion County

With more a third of the individuals from Marion County returning to incarceration within a year of being released, the city of Indianapolis is using a $1 million federal grant to launch a new three-year project to reduce the recidivism rate and improve outcomes.

The Indianapolis Office of Public Health and Safety announced the grant award Tuesday from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The funding will be used to provide vocational training, literacy instruction and educational resources that can lead to meaningful employment opportunities for people returning to the community and prevent recidivism.

Currently, about 36% of individuals released back to Marion County from the Indiana Department of Correction return to incarceration within 12 months. Lack of education and illiteracy have been identified as contributing recidivism factors. A study conducted in Indiana found that 29.7% of returning individuals who participated in educational programs recidivated, compared to 67.8% who did not participate.

The new project, led by Carlette Duffy, OPHS program manager, in partnership with Community Solutions, Inc., and the American Institute for Research, will analyze the re-entry system in Marion County and implement programming. Then it will evaluate the success of reducing recidivism and improving outcomes for returning individuals.

The first phase will start with an assessment of the barriers to successful re-entry in Marion County. Next, a plan of action will be developed to serve 150 returning individuals between 18 and 24 years of age who are at moderate- to high-risk of recidivism.

Participants will be referred to Community Action of Greater Indianapolis for case management services. These services will include developing a re-entry plan, coordinating the administration of Test for Adult Basic Education assessments, referring individuals to community-based programs and monitoring success.

Various interventions and assistance will be available to these individuals to help them gain employment. The goal is to secure employment for at least 75% of participants. Data will be collected through focus groups and interviews on the results of the services offered and an analysis will be conducted to determine if recidivism rates are reduced.

Small businesses are collaborating to provide training and assist with job placement. Among the employers are minority-owned businesses such as Rhodes Trucking, Bibbs Trucking and BUILD/Turner Housing.

The project is part of Mayor Joe Hogsett’s criminal justice reform efforts. According to the Office of Public Health and Safety, between grants to grassroots organizations, a victim and witness assistance program, and a team of peacemakers working to intervene in violence in neighborhoods, Indianapolis is investing $4 million in community-based crime prevention efforts in 2019.

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