Tag Archives: Criminal Justice Reform

Reentry “Simulation” Program

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia has developed a Reentry Simulation program that recreates some of the struggles and challenges faced by individuals who are transitioning from incarceration back into society.

The goal is for participants to gain an understanding of the significant obstacles faced by men and women attempting to navigate the system upon their release from incarceration and returning home to their communities. In their words, “to walk in the shoes of one who is returning home gives invaluable insight for professionals who are tasked with helping those individuals achieve a successful reentry.”

In the program, participants assume the identity of an ex-offender and receive a packet of materials, including a “Life Card.” The “Life Card” explains the reentrant’s criminal background, current living situation, current job situation, and the specific weekly tasks that must be accomplished in order to avoid the risk of being sent back to prison for non-compliance with the requirements of his or her supervised release. In a series of 15 minute segments, the “reentrants” navigate a series of stations that represent the many places a returning citizen must navigate in real life on release. Each table has random elements which produce real life uncertainty when dealing with each of these agencies and organizations. Some of these stations include DMV, Probation, Court, GED, Bank, Employer, Social Services, Church, Pawn Shop, Landlord/Rent, Transportation, Health Clinic, Treatment, etc. Additionally, there are “monitors” and “officers” who check “Life Cards” to aid Probation Officers in assessing each reentrant’s level of compliance. They also identify those who may need increased levels of supervision.

In between each of these segments (at the end of each “week”) reentrants return to their “housing locations,” which can be home, the halfway house, homeless shelter or jail, depending on how successful they have been in satisfying the conditions of their release and accomplishing their assigned tasks. They then engage in a guided discussion with the event facilitators debriefing them with regards to their experiences and helping them reflect on their successes and failures.

A full description is here: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndwv/reentry-simulation

Marin County recently put on this Reentry Simulation through their Whole Person Care program: https://www.marinij.com/2022/10/26/marin-exercise-fosters-empathy-for-former-inmates/

ADA in the Criminal Justice System

The DOJ has issued guidelines for application of the Americans with Disabilities Act in the criminal justice system. The report, “Examples and Resources to Support Criminal Justice Entities in Compliance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act,”explains how Title II of the ADA applies to individuals with mental health disabilities and intellectual and developmental disabilities in the criminal justice system.  Under the ADA, state and local government criminal justice entities—including police, courts, prosecutors, public defense attorneys, jails, juvenile justice, and corrections agencies—must ensure that people with mental health disabilities are treated equally and are afforded equal opportunities to benefit from safe, inclusive communities.  Nondiscrimination requirements, such as providing reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures and taking appropriate steps to communicate effectively with people with disabilities, also support the goals of ensuring public safety, promoting public welfare, and avoiding unnecessary criminal justice involvement for people with disabilities.

The report includes examples of instances where improved coordination and collaboration between criminal justice entities and disability service systems has generated positive community outcomes, improved policies, and more effective training.

$282 Million

That’s the Opportunity Institute’s estimate of the cost of wrongful convictions and other failed prosecutions in California’s criminal justice system. The report 692 adult felony criminal cases from 2000–2012 where the defendant was convicted of felony or felonies, the convictions were reversed, and the charges were either dismissed or the defendant subsequently found not guilty on retrial. It examines the types of cases susceptible to error, the types of error that exist, and the direct costs of incarceration, representation, and compensation attributable to these cases and their ultimate resolution.