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County Partners with Exodus Transitional Community for Reentry Program for those released from state prison
New “Transition Center” facility could expand these successful programs for local offenders to end cycle of recidivism

Published: 3/1/2013

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Colleen Pillus

Poughkeepsie… The Dutchess County Criminal Justice Council (CJC) has again secured a $75,000 grant from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) to fund the County’s Reentry project program.   This program provides assistance to individuals who had been incarcerated in state prison to successfully reintegrate in the community when they return home to Dutchess County and maintain a crime-free existence.  The program’s focus is on individuals with a high risk of reoffending or who have special needs.  The CJC is contracted with Exodus Transitional Community, Inc to provide reentry services in Dutchess County for 2013.

The goal of reentry programs is to reduce the likelihood of re-offending during program participation and after program completion.   Program participants receive coaching and assistance to overcome issues including lack of education, job training or vocational experience, transportation, housing and/or substance abuse and mental health issues. Addressing these issues through skill building and problem solving programs, mentoring and treatment programs can result in the successful transition of offenders from prison to living law-abiding and productive lives in the community.

Reentry programs have been proven to enhance public safety by reducing offenders risk to the community upon release and saving taxpayer dollars by lowering the direct and collateral costs of incarceration.

Exodus Transitional Community, Inc. has established its office location in Dutchess County at 85 Cannon Street in the City of Poughkeepsie.  According to Exodus’ Reentry Coordinator Diana Ortiz, the Exodus service model is focused on guiding participants toward concrete accomplishments to demonstrate that they can take control of their future. Program participants are guided in how to set goals and develop plans to achieve those goals in employment, education, family/relationships, spirituality, health/physical fitness, and community involvement.

According to Dutchess County Public Defender Tom Angell, who serves as the Chairman of the Dutchess County Reentry Task Force, “The reentry program helps to stop the cycle of recidivism - arrest, incarceration, release, and re-arrest. This has been a successful program here in Dutchess County for those individuals preparing for release from state prisons and we are pleased to be able to partner with Exodus Transitional Community, Inc in the this effort to ensure those who are released from prison do not return, but instead live healthy and productive lives here in our community.”

Criminal Justice Council Chairwoman Mary Ellen Still noted, “We would like to be able to expand these reentry programs to local offenders who are sentenced to the Dutchess County jail. With as many as half of local offenders being housed at jails in other counties, we are not able to fully maximize these effective programs. The CJC’s Criminal Justice Systems Needs Assessment report advocates for a  new jail facility that would serve as a ‘Transition Center’ with a campus type of design that would enable us to work with the special needs of various populations including women, youth, and individuals with mental health and substance abuse issues.”