PROBLEMATIC BEHAVIOR OR ACTIVITY
Benton County’s criminal justice system is continuously stressed due to the limitations of local funding and limited capacity of the Benton County Jail. With an average capacity of only 28 to 34 inmates, Benton County Jail has the lowest per capita capacity in the state of Oregon. The jail’s limited capacity often results in the early release of offenders. It also means that Benton County Community Corrections must be creative and innovative in its prioritization of sanctions, programming, and referrals for services. In terms of managing offenders who are released from prison by the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC), timely, purposeful reach-ins are vital to increasing the likelihood that people successfully transition back into the community.
IMPACT ON THE COMMUNITY
Without timely, purposeful reach-ins to the DOC, people returning to Benton County from state prison are less likely to engage in services and receive the support necessary for a successful transition upon release. When the Benton County Jail operates at capacity, it makes sanctioning a difficult endeavor; offenders who need the occasional custodial sanction to stay on track cannot always benefit from that resource. This increases the risk that they will continue to engage in problematic behavior.
The Benton County Transition Program identifies all persons incarcerated in DOC institutions, including those on structured transitional leave programs (such as STT and the Alternative Incarceration Program) who are scheduled to be released to Benton County on parole or post-prison supervision. The transition team conducts reach-ins approximately 180 days prior to an offender’s release. The process consists of targeted interactions with clients being released from state prison to prepare them for long-term sustainability and productive lives in the community. Team members are trained on evidenced-based principles and educated on local services and community resources. The Transition Program provides short-term financial assistance to indigent offenders, to help pay for transitional housing, food, work-related clothing, haircuts, medication, transportation, and crisis intervention. The program also offers financial assistance to facilitate the placement of qualifying offenders in residential substance-use treatment programs.
BASED ON RESEARCH
Benton County employs evidenced-based practices and collaborates with community partners to focus resources and supervision on its highest-risk offenders who pose the greatest danger to the community. The evidence- based practices include the Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (LS/CMI) assessment tool, case plans, Carey Guides, and change contracts.
This program is funded in part by a $48,360 grant through the state’s 2015-2017 Justice Reinvestment Grant Program. The grant supports transitional housing, including mental health–related transitional housing.
Proposed outcomes include:
- enhanced public safety through effective transitioning of offenders from state and local custody to the community;
- reach-ins conducted approximately 180 days prior to an offender’s release; and
- short-term financial assistance and reentry services for indigent offenders, to help ensure a smooth transition from custody to the community.
CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTORS
This program is in early implementation; it is too soon to identify the factors critical to its success.
This program is in early implementation; it is too soon to provide advice.