2004 Adopted Resolutions
72nd Annual Meeting
Boston

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PROMOTING SAFE, SUCCESSFUL RE-ENTRY AND SELF-SUFFICIENCY FOR PEOPLE LEAVING JAIL OR PRISON

†††† WHEREAS, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 10 million persons will be released from city and county jails this year.In addition, more than 600,000 adults will be released from state and federal prisons this year to return to our communities.Currently one of every 75 men lived in prison or jail, and half of these inmates are incarcerated for a non-violent offense; and

†††† WHEREAS, persons leaving jail or prison often lack not only the most basic needs of food, shelter and clothes, but job skills, training and placement as well as transitional housing and support services (such as substance abuse and mental health treatment).Further, many former detainees or prisoners are denied employment, educational assistance, TANF benefits, subsidized housing, parental rights, medical assistance and health care, driverís licenses, and the right to vote, to name a few.These barriers often prevent effective reintegration back into society; and

†††† WHEREAS, two-thirds (67.5%) of local detainees and state prisoners will be rearrested within three years of their release from jail or prison, and half (52%) will be reincarcerated for either a new offense or a violation of the terms of their release if they do not receive these vital supports; continuing the cycle of crime and despair; and

†††† WHEREAS, studies prove incarceration has high impact on the family.Children of prisoners have a 70% greater chance of following their parents into prison.The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates 1.5 million children in the U.S. had a parent in a state or federal prison in 1999 Ė an increase of 500,000 since 1991, and over 7 million children have a parent under some form of correctional supervision.Long term generational effects of a social structure in which imprisonment is the norm have significant outcomes on families; and

†††† WHEREAS, the social costs of reentry have profound collateral consequences, including public health risks, homelessness, unemployment and public safety concerns.More than two thirds of the incarcerated population has a high rate of infectious disease, substance abuse and/or mental health disorders.Close to 27% of prisoners expect to go to homeless shelters upon release from prison, and 16% of the local jail population is mentally ill. Recent data proves two thirds of all prisoners released return to the nationís core cities and counties; and

†††† WHEREAS, cities and counties across the nation are absorbing the economic cost of reentry.Without adequate support mechanisms, formerly incarcerated individuals are highly likely to reoffend, and the high recidivism rates have direct economic consequences.The average cost per day to house a federal or state inmate is $69, or over $25,000 a year.Likewise, the cost associated with housing an inmate per day in a local jail facility is $59, or over $21,00 a year. Significant portions of state and local government budgets are now invested in the criminal justice system.Costs associated with keeping people incarcerated in this country in 1999 alone neared $147 billion.According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, local governments contributed the most (51%) to criminal justice Ė almost $75 billion in 1999.Lastly, prisons drain resources from colleges and universities, and leaders in higher education and the business community are beginning to question the societal implications of this allocation of resources; and

†††† WHEREAS, city and county governments have received very limited federal or state assistance in providing adequate programming at the local level for non-violent mentally ill offenders who often end up inappropriately confined in city and county jails.Proper treatment, discharge planning, and continuity of medical care in the community have proven effective in helping foster successful reentry and prevent rearrest or reincarceration for these individuals; and

†††† WHEREAS, President Bush has proposed a four-year, $300 million initiative in his FY 2005 budget to reduce recidivism and the societal costs of reincarceration by helping inmates find work when returning to their communities harnessing the resources and experience of faith and community based organizations working through three federal departments which include the Department of Labor, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Justice to provide job training and placement, transitional housing, and mentoring for prisoners returning back to society; and

†††† WHEREAS, Representative Danny Davis (IL), Representative Mark Souder (IN) and others introduced H.R. 2166, The Public Safety Ex-Offender Self-Sufficiency Act of 2003, on May 20, 2003.The Public Safety Ex-Offender Self Sufficiency Acts amends the Internal Revenue Service Code of 1986 to provide for a temporary ex-offender low-income housing tax credits to encourage the provision of housing, job training, and other essential services to ex-offenders through a structured living environment designed to assist prisoners in becoming self-sufficient; and

†††† WHEREAS, Representative Rob Portman (OH), Representative Danny Davis (IL), Representative Mark Souder (IN), and Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones (IN) introduced a bipartisan bill called the Second Chance Act of 2004 on June 23, 2004.The Second Chance Act of 2004 is targeted to provide support for state and local reentry demonstration projects, encourages reentry coordination between and among different levels of government and non-governmental service providers, and calls for review of barriers faced by former prisoners.Overall, the proposal calls to increase public safety, strengthen families, prevent crime, restore victims, and reduce costs at the federal, state and local levels by reducing recidivism among individuals reentering society after imprisonment; and

†††† WHEREAS, The U.S. Conference of Mayors, through its Mayors Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, held a summit on April 28, 2004 to discuss the issue of reentry into the nationís communities.This is the first in a series of forums and comprehensive strategies focused on coordinating the national efforts of the city officials, community and faith leaders, local law enforcement, probation, parole and prisons to facilitate and foster safe, successful reentry through the following recommendations,

†††† NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors supports efforts to more effectively integrate persons leaving jail or prison back into society, particularly efforts which promote job training and job placement; transitional housing fostering a continuum of care and holistic approach; mentoring for prisoners and children of prisoners; family reunification; life skills training and education; substance abuse, mental health treatment and voting rights; and

†††† BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors supports providing federal support to both state and local governments in a way that encourages and strengthens increased reentry coordination among state and local government agencies and non-governmental service providers, including faith and community-based providers, as well as providing transitional case managers to assist offenders; and

†††† BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors supports establishing appropriate processes to ensure both state and local governments are on equal footing in developing collaborative partnerships at the state and local level on reentry, including adequate representation and input of local governments; and

†††† BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors supports exploring the elimination of counter-productive barriers which impede successful and safe reentry; and

†††† BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors supports efforts to provide self-sufficiency to persons leaving jail or prison, such as the Public Safety Ex-Offender Self-Sufficiency Act and the Second Chance Act, and the efforts of the Mayors Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives to inform, educate and train mayors, city-designated faith-based liaisons, and other public servants on how to best engage faith and community leaders, particularly focusing on efforts which target effective societal reentry and self-sufficiency for people leaving jail or prison; and

†††† BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors will convene and spearhead a broader effort through its Mayors Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives to create a National Reentry Consortium comprised of several national public interest groups, community advocacy associations, faith and religious leaders, city governments, universities and other experts representative of the Reentry field to do the following in a broad based national manner:1) educational and media outreach; 2) technical assistance to help localities implement Best Practice models; 3) information exchange and dissemination;and 3) advocacy and policy outreach on reentry issues.