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Bar News - July 17, 2009

Targeting Services to Where Released Inmates Live

In 2003, prison officials in Arizona, with the help of the Council on State Governments’ Justice Center, embarked on a program that would study the lives of more than 30,000 state prison inmates, tracking them from the start of their incarceration to their eventual release from custody of the state’s correction department.

Investigators began by noting the home address of each of the inmates upon their entry into the prison system. The data showed most of the inmates had lived within very distinct neighborhoods of the state’s cities. As each prisoner was released into probation and parole, they returned to the same areas.

Finally, researchers mapped the addresses of recipients of social services – health & human services, food stamps, child & family services, etc. When mapped, the neighborhoods of social service recipients and inmates closely correlated. That finding led the state to invest more than $200 million in mental health and substance abuse clinics, low-income healthcare clinics, after-school programs and more, in those areas.

State officials contend that this targeted assistance is working at helping inmates avoid re-offending and is reducing the need for new prison beds. The state postponed the building of a $50-plus million prison and eventually closed two other state incarceration facilities.

"We don’t have that kind of money, but we can use these concepts to base our resources on the areas with the highest rates of recidivism. The savings will then be passed back to the communities and back to the state," said McGonagle.

State Budget Funds NH-DOC Community Corrections Division

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