Indiana Gov. Joe Kernan yesterday announced a plan that could lower recidivism and ease the state’s worst prison crowding crisis in decades. The program would provide social assistance to newly released ex-convicts. Indiana, along with seven other states and the District of Columbia, will participate in a federal pilot program to help place ex-convicts in job training, substance abuse treatment, and other social programs.
The Indiana Offender Reintegration Project comes as the state faces its most severe prison crowding in 40 years. Indiana must make ex-convicts “assets to our communities instead of liabilities,” Kernan said. “It is in all our best interests that the individuals are given the tools to succeed, rather than end up back in our already overcrowded correctional facilities.”
Some Republicans called the program election-year politics. “A lot of these things we are already supposed to be doing,” said Rep. Jeff Espich, R-Uniondale.
Prison officials will develop a post-release plan for each inmate. Administrators would work with the Family and Social Services Administration, community groups and faith-based organizations to help newly released ex-convicts find jobs, housing, and other needs.
The pilot program also will be implemented in Missouri, Oregon, Michigan, Rhode Island, North Dakota, Georgia, New York, and Washington, D.C.