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Poughkeepsie…In 2017, Dutchess County will continue to enhance its model of restorative justice with the focus on prevention, intervention, diversion and transition. Beginning in January, in partnership with Project M.O.R.E., Inc., Dutchess County’s successful in-jail cognitive behavioral therapy program, RESTART, will expand through a 5-year, $1.8 million grant from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. The grant project will enhance both RESTART graduates and other probationers’ employment preparation and connection to services necessary to help combat criminal behavior and substance abuse upon release to the community. The grant will be facilitated through Project M.O.R.E., Inc. with support from the Dutchess County Office of Probation & Community Corrections. The grant funding is included in the 2017 County Budget, expected to be adopted on Thursday, December 8th.
County Executive Marc Molinaro said, “Our focus remains on reducing recidivism through diverse alternatives to incarceration. This program through use of cognitive behavioral programming, job preparation and coaching, and supportive services—in partnership with Project M.O.R.E., Inc. will expand services to ensure a pathway to success.”
The program will focus on assisting probationers and those enrolled in alternatives to incarceration (ATI) programming, including RESTART, Intensive Treatment Alternative Program (ITAP), pretrial services, and probation supervision. The Dutchess County Office of Probation & Community Corrections will identify and refer individuals to the program using the COMPAS, an assessment tool that measures the specific risk and needs of an individual while Project M.O.R.E., Inc. will conduct an in-depth assessment using various screening tools including the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) to assess knowledge and skills.
Once accepted into the program, individuals will participate in evidence-based programming including Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT), Offender Workforce Development Specialist (OWDS) program and other supportive services to help with preparing, obtaining and maintaining employment. While in the program, participants will work with an employment specialist and case manager to design a case plan and identify and apply for suitable employment. Additionally, Project M.O.R.E., Inc. will work with Dutchess One Stop Career Center and local businesses to increase employment opportunities for program participants and provide employer incentives to hire, train and retain these individuals. Program services will be offered at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in the City of Poughkeepsie, which also houses the Community Transition Center (CTC), one of the County’s many alternatives to incarceration programs.
Dutchess County Office of Probation & Community Corrections Director Mary Ellen Still said, “This program will help to ensure these individuals continue to get the programs, training and therapies they need to deal with their criminogenic and substance abuse issues even after release from the jail. As part of our office’s support of the program, we are committed to referring at least 75 individuals annually to this program through our initial COMPAS screening which will identify the specific needs of an individual and targeted interventions. Additionally, a senior staff member from our office will serve as a liaison for the program to help with streamlining the referral and supervision process.”
RESTART or Re-Entry Stabilization Transition And Reintegration Track, is an evidence-based program designed to provide treatment and reentry services, reduce recidivism and assist inmates as they transition back into the community. RESTART is a voluntary program available to male and female inmates housed in the Dutchess County Jail who are at the highest risk to commit new offenses. Staff from the Department of Behavioral & Community Health and their jail-based team, the Office of Probation & Community Corrections and the Dutchess County Jail are working with community-based providers including Project M.O.R.E., Inc. and Hudson Valley Mental Health, to provide RESTART program services. RESTART has shown significant success since it began in 2015 with nearly 300 graduates to date. The new Dutchess County Justice & Transition Center will allow for an expansion of the program, with adequate space for services, including large group areas, office space for staff, and an environment encouraging engagement in program offerings.
Martin Lynch, Director of Programs, Planning & Development at Project M.O.R.E., Inc. said, “We are grateful to receive this grant from the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services. This funding will provide us with the necessary resources to continue our work with the criminal justice involved population by utilizing a comprehensive approach to addressing specific needs of these individuals that may otherwise have been a barrier to securing and holding a job. We look forward to collaborating with the Dutchess County Office of Probation & Community Corrections to help reduce recidivism by assisting individuals with obtaining and maintaining employment.”
To learn more about the 2017 Executive Budget, go to dutchessny.gov.