Apr 23, 2009

Upper Manhattan Reentry Task Force Presents to Service Providers

Yesterday, we had a chance to present our work and plans for the future to the Service Provider Advisory Council of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.

This council of advisors was formed last October to provide broad input and evaluation from reentry service provider community throughout the state on both current and future reentry initiatives and projects. There are 28 members from around the state (including some of our own Task Force partners, The Fortune Society, the Center for Employment Opportunities, and the Doe Fund), representing a variety of different service needs and perspectives. Yesterday, DCJS introduced this group to the County Reentry Task Forces (of which Upper Manhattan is one).

Particularly notable is the fact that the commissioners and executive staff of DCJS, the Division of Parole, the Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives, the Department of Correctional Services, and the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services were present for the entire day-long conference, listening to the presentations of the various Task Forces and to the concerns and questions of the service provider representatives. In New York State, there is a level of coordination among these key reentry agencies that is unprecedented and very encouraging -- what it means, on a practical level, is that key decision makers have their ear to the ground in terms of the systemic challenges. If a multi-service provider in Albany is having the same problem getting medicaid started for a reentrant as a provider in the Bronx, then trends emerge and agency staff can be tasked to work out a solution. The improvement of reentry processes happens just as much at the direct service level as it does at the institutional level.

DCJS has also produced a great video offering an overview of reentry for those looking for a starting point to this issue. It features Glenn Martin of the Fortune Society and Vivian Nixon of the College and Community Fellowship.