We need your help to convince the legislature to reinvest funds in Rhode Island's budget into critically needed reentry support services. You can read more about this issue below and please sign on to our online petition here. Please call and email your Representatives and Senators as well.

Read our letter from OpenDoors, the Rhode Island State Council of Churches, the Rhode Island NAACP, and other organizations to Governor Raimondo.

Read our Uprise RI feature, with a letter written by one of our very own staff members. 

                                                         

                                                

 

 

Memo on the proposal to re-allocate funds from community-based statewide discharge planning to DOC staff positions:


Background on Statewide Discharge Planning proposal:

  • Allocates approximately $623,277/yr to seven new RIDOC Discharge Planning FTE’s
  • Statewide discharge planners provide assistance with applications, such as Medicaid, SNAP, and state ID’s, and more general reentry planning assistance prior to release from prison.
  • Was proposed in 2016, then withdrawn and RIDOC contracted these services to a Connecticut based agency, after a report by the Harvard Kennedy School(HKS)
  • The five year contract was terminated early in 2020 and the Department maintains this new proposal will reduce staff turnover and thus improve services.


Given the recent dynamics of the pandemic, these funds for reentry services would be better spent on critically needed reentry housing:

  • Most services to be provided by this allocation are already being met:
    • RIDOC is able to help most individuals complete Medicaid, SNAP, and state ID applications through the mail using existing staff.
    • Outside agencies are providing individualized reentry support over the phone to people that desire further assistance.
  • Currently, this staff would not be allowed to enter the ACI due to Covid restrictions.
  • An analysis done by OpenDoors found that approximately 50% of individuals approaching release reported that they would be homeless.
  • There are currently unfunded reentry housing proposals at both BHDDH and OHCD that would help these individuals.
  • This commits RIDOC to potentially unsustainable new positions, as the FY 22 RIDOC budget proposes cutting most other rehabilitative services.


Just as indicated in 2016, investing reentry funds in DOC based discharge planning disinvests in the crucial community services that discharge planning relies upon:

  • Discharge planning contracts have historically been the only reliable state investment in community reentry services. Discharge planners cannot direct people to community services if the services do not exist, and this disinvestment endangers these services.
  • The Governor’s Juvenile Justice and Criminal Justice Working Group identified reentry priorities and recommendations, and in-house discharge planning was not one of these.
  • Often, those in prison prefer to receive reentry services from community agencies rather than RIDOC because of the custodial relationship RIDOC has over them.
  • The 2017 HKS report compared a better funded RIDOC program to a worse funded alternative to make conclusions. Its recommendations do not take into account the recent dynamics of the pandemic or the perspectives of individuals that use discharge planning.

 

 1 The full up front allocation is $755,00/yr ($241,491 FY 21), with RIDOC estimating that some of this can  be charged to Medicaid as part of the process of assisting people to sign up for insurance.

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