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December 14, 2005

CONTACT: Steve Tompkins
(617) 961-6672
(617) 828-5134

BOSTON RE-ENTRY INITIATIVE HITS MILESTONE - 50th Panel to commence on December 14th

Boston— The 50th panel of the Boston Re-entry Initiative (BRI) will commence on Wednesday, December 14 at the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department. Created in 2000, this unique program targets so-called “high impact offenders” between the ages of 17 and 30, whose prior criminal behavior typically involves gang involvement, violence and/or the use of firearms. It is a population considered 100% likely to re-offend without intervention and help in making a lawful transition back into their communities.

“The Suffolk County House of Correction houses approximately 68% of inmates housed statewide at the county level. More than 85% of them live within five miles of the facility. Upon release, they return home with the potential to have an immediate and highly negative impact on the safety and quality of life in our neighborhoods,” said Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral. “Effective re-entry programs, particularly at the county level, are not optional; they are essential to our ability to keep the public safe.”

The BRI represents a partnership between the Boston Police Department, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, Community Resources for Justice, the United States Attorney’s Office, probation, parole, social service providers and faith-based organizations. Within 45 days of their initial booking into the House of Correction, selected inmates are chosen to participate in panels of 12, which are convened monthly. The panel is used to impart two messages: First, the law enforcement community is aware of the offenders’ past criminal activity and is prepared to act quickly and decisively should the offender resume those activities upon release. Second, there are significant resources – employment, housing, educational and other support services – available to aid their transition back into community life. Every inmate is assigned a mentor from a faith-based organization or community service provider who assists them in implementing the discharge plan they receive upon release.

“Much of our violence is committed by repeat offenders, our so-called impact players. The Boston Re-entry Initiative is an integral part of our plan to intervene with those offenders and dissuade them from their destructive behavior,” said Police Commissioner Kathleen M. O’Toole.

The program is successful. Statistical data gathered from 2003 to 2005 shows that participation in the BRI has led to a significant decrease in recidivism within this population. Between those years, 287 inmates participated in the program and 276 (96.5%) were released. Of that number, 118 (43%) have not been re-arrested since their introduction to the program. Significantly, among the 158 who did re-offend, 64 (40.5%) were arrested for non-violence charges. In a population considered to be 100% likely to recidivate at a same or increased level of severity, only 94 (34%) were re-arrested for a serious, violent crime following participation in the Boston Re-entry Initiative.

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