With nearly 650,000 inmates released each year from prisons and 7 million from jails, the Council on State Governments has issued a preview of a report for state and local officials on how best to make policy on prisoner re-entry into society. The bipartisan document has been endorsed by a wide range of officials, including U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Ma.), Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Ks.), and Ohio corrections director Reginald Wilkinson.
The report lays out important issues that should be taken into account in planning re-entry policy, including medical and mental health care, substance abuse treatment, housing, jobs, and crime victims issues. Instead of making policy based on a single crime-related “tragedy,” the report urges, officials hould study its hundreds of recommendations, which have the “backing of public safety officials and service providers alike.” The Council on State Governments hopes to issue the full report within six weeks. The effort was supported by funds from three federal departemnts; Justice, Labor, and Health and Human Services.