December 10, 2010

It’s been a busy winter season for the Reentry Enhancement Coordination (REC) program with three recent graduation ceremonies and more being planned. The Department of Community Justice (DCJ) has already seen 108 graduates of the Reentry Enhancement Coordination (REC) program since April 2009. 

Funded through an Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Grant, REC provides critical support to former inmates during the first few months of their return to the community. The alcohol and drug treatment period immediately following release from prison is a particularly high-risk time for offenders. Not only is the risk of new crimes greatest during this period but offenders often experience a heightened need for substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment, housing and other services.

“This is a major turning point for our high-risk offenders. They are establishing alcohol and drug free routines that will set the tone for their entire release and transition. Too many offenders get back into their old and destructive patterns”, shares Truls Neal, program manager at DCJ. “In contrast, REC participants develop a plan for how they will become a better person and create a better life for themselves on the outside.”

REC graduates have much to celebrate as they have worked hard and have turned a corner in a path towards a brighter future. The celebrations are an interactive experience in which graduates and audience members can share personal testimony with each other. Family members, mentors, probation officers, treatment staff and peers in recovery take turns praising and celebrating the changes they have seen. “I think he is going to make it this time,” shared one proud mother commenting on her son’s future.

Additional REC team members include Volunteers of America for substance abuse treatment, Bridges to Change for alcohol and drug free transitional housing and recovery peer mentors, and SE Works for employment readiness and job coaching.