Georgia is receiving national attention as the state recently received four competitive federal grants from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to implement its Prisoner Reentry Initiative (GA-PRI). Georgia is the only state to have received all four grants at one time – a testament to the smart framework that the state has developed to bring about significant reductions in recidivism.
The Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Reentry (GOTSR) developed the GA-PRI Framework with the assistance of the Center for Justice Innovation last fall and began taking steps to implement it at five pilot sites around the state. GOTSR took these steps knowing that additional funding would be necessary to successfully carry out this initiative.
The office applied for the BJA grants around the beginning of summer with the hopes that it would receive the funding necessary to hire the right staff, provide evidence-based training and implementation, improve information sharing and measuring outcomes, and establish quality assurance mechanisms.
Jay Neal, executive director of GOTSR, explained that the office applied for the grants with the expectation that each one would fund a different component of the initiative and build on each other. This created a package deal that would enable the state to fully implement the GA-PRI framework without duplicating funds. This smart strategy appealed to BJA, who awarded the office each grant for which it applied.
The four grants that Georgia received for this initiative include:
|Smart Supervision Grant||Department of Corrections; Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Reentry||$750,000|
|Statewide Recidivism Reduction Grant||Department of Corrections; Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Reentry||$3,000,000|
|Justice Information Sharing Solutions Grant||Criminal Justice Coordinating Council||$498,234|
|Justice Reinvestment: Maximizing State Reforms Grant||Department of Corrections; Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Reentry||$1,750,000|
Now that the state has received these grants, the next challenge will be to put all of its planning into action. This implementation phase will be critical to the success of prisoner reentry reform in Georgia, and the state understands that it will take collaboration among all stakeholders in the community for it to be successful, including businesses, churches, educational institutions, non-profits, and others.
GOTSR will be presenting its three year implementation strategy at the Justice Reinvestment National Summit in San Diego (November 17-19, 2014) where hundreds of people from over 30 states will be represented. These states will be looking at Georgia to see how well the state can implement its new reentry framework to reduce recidivism.
Georgia’s goal is to see a decrease in recidivism by seven percent in two years, and by 11 percent over five years.
The momentum for reform is strong right now in Georgia, but the true test of the state’s commitment to preparing citizens for successful reintegration will have to be seen in the coming years as the inevitable difficulties of implementation arise.
For now, the state’s leaders seem prepared to face those challenges as they arise. There is a prevailing optimism that can be heard in government boardrooms and local reentry coalitions around the state, especially as people recount the incredible progress that has been made in Georgia over the last four years in the area of criminal justice reform.
Image credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (featured image), The Wall Street Journal, and The Polk Fish Wrap
The new grants awarded will help GA in many positive ways and this will ensure that ex-offenders have second chance in life.
I would like to communicate with mr. Jay Neal, exec. director of GOTSR as I now need his guidance as I am paroled out from GA to another state and have hit a concrete wall as a business man. I need the assistance from mr. Neal’s office I being able to have a ‘transition’ back into society. my particular case is being watched by many other entities. thanks
I’m an ex-con from Kentucky and I did 12yrs 4months,and am having the hardest time finding work because i’ve done so much time!,I drove an 18 wheeler for a little over a yr and was a trailer mechanic most of my life and would truely love to get back to driving since it gave me the most piece of mind and the best money!,I was born in Rome,Ga. and am proud of my heritage and come back to be with my family which my father is in bad health and only want what’s best for him but how can I do that if I cant find work? I’m not a thief and I don’t do drugs but my case is a sex offense against my ex-wife no kids involved! so tell me I’m willing to do what ever as a job to get started but if no one will hire what do I do?,i’m 49yrs old and limits to some work but i’m a hard worker and am willing to learn what ever,i’d rather be judged on my character than my crime I dress good,i’m clean and just want to get back into a new life! yall talk so much about helping us but do yall ever ask us what can I do?,i’m not asking for much I just want to get back to work and driving would be nice so do you know a trucking Co.that hires felons like me who been out of society so long?,if so PLEASE call me 502-593-7029,I thought with my mechanical back ground I wouldn’t have any problem and a clean MVR?,you know I admit I do have emotional problems but who wouldn’t after seein some of the things I saw but i’m older and deal with it!,i’ve had a troubled past but who hasn’t?,i’m older and wiser and just want to move on with my life but it does effect me trying as hard as I am and bein unsuccessful who wants to be 49 living with their 77 yr old father?,I have no accidents in a car or an 18 wheeler and have lived a good life before doin time can you as a big politician with my issue?,you know atleast I am trying and resolving to crime like alot of the others but they have drug problems I don’t!,if you want to help the convicts talk to them,I don’t have a computor so please call any time.