Posted: Aug 29, 2013 2:35 PM by Melissa Anderson
Updated: Aug 29, 2013 2:38 PM
HELENA - With Montana's prison population on the rise, Department of Corrections officials are working on ways to reduce the rate of repeat offenders, and part of their effort includes a new re-entry initiative.
The re-entry group was established by the 2013 Montana Legislature, and is charged with developing programs to help inmates successfully re-enter Montana communities.
In opening remarks during a task force meeting on Wednesday, Governor Steve Bullock noted how important it is to rehabilitate and release offenders successfully, so they can become responsible and productive citizens.
Bullock said almost 1,200 inmates went to prison last year, and almost the same number exited the prison.
Bullock added, "Every success that we have reduces the number of new victims, and the number of re-offenses."
Mike Batista, director of the Montana Department of Corrections, said, "Roughly right now 93% to 97% of offenders all return to their communities eventually, so if we can make them successful, that's ultimately the goal."
The task force will develop and implement re-entry programs for offenders within 12 months of release from prison.
The Montana Department of Corrections website states:
A 22-member task force has started work on assessing programs, policies and procedures that are in place to as-sist offenders in reentry. The group?s ultimate purpose, as explained in its vision, is to ensure every offender released from a correctional facility "will have the tools needed to succeed in the community."
Members established seven priorities at its first meeting in August:
Establish a comprehensive, standardized, objective and validated intake procedure that assesses each offender?s strengths, risks and needs.
Develop for each offender in a correctional facility an individualized plan that explains what programming should be provided during the period of incarceration to ensure a successful and safe return to the community.
Develop for each offender in a correctional facility a similar plan that explains what programming should be provided following incarceration.
Review and prioritize what the releasing authority has established as terms and conditions of release and develop a community supervision and treatment strategy that cor-responds to the resources available, reflects the likelihood of recidivism and encourages compliance with release conditions.
Help offenders maintain, establish, re-establish, expand and strengthen relationships with their families and make services and support available to offenders? family members.
Connect offenders to employment before their release into the community. · Facilitate access to sustainable housing upon return to the community.