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October 7, 2004


Law enforcement, social service agencies team up to cut number of re-offenders


Tackling a national crisis in which more than half of ex-convicts are re-arrested within three years of serving their time in prison, the Romney Administration today announced the opening of eight regional re-entry centers designed to improve public safety by reducing the number of former inmates that re-offend.


“Governor Romney and I are determined to leave no stone unturned in the fight for stronger public safety,” said Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey. “These new reentry centers will help turn ex-inmates away from a life of crime and provide a new level of security for the people of Massachusetts.”


Each year, 20,000 inmates are released from incarceration in Massachusetts. Under current sentencing practices, nearly half of these inmates leave prison without any support or oversight. Ill prepared to meet the challenges that face them upon release, many former inmates return to a life of crime.


The eight new regional re-entry centers are located at existing State Parole Board field offices in Mattapan, Quincy, Brockton, New Bedford, Framingham, Lawrence, Worcester and Springfield.


Through improved coordination among criminal justice, law enforcement and social service agencies, these centers will work to prevent prisoners from re-offending by:


  • Providing local police departments with real-time information on offenders that are released into their communities;
  • Transporting classified Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders to police departments in their home communities to ensure proper registration as required by law;
  • Providing employment advice, vocational training, mental health services, substance abuse treatment and housing services to former inmates to assist them in pursuing productive, lawful lives; and
  • Providing victim service caseworkers to help crime victims with safety planning and access to other victim services.


“With 97 percent of all inmates imprisoned in the Commonwealth returning to our communities at some point and about half of those re-offending within three years, prisoner re-entry must be a central part of any successful crime-fighting strategy,” said Public Safety Secretary Edward A. Flynn.


“Both research and our own experience tells us that if we want to make our communities safer, we need to provide former inmates with some basic services to help them transition back into society as law-abiding, tax-paying citizens,” said Parole Board Chair Maureen Walsh. “These re-entry centers should prove to be powerful tools in our fight against crime.”


The regional re-entry centers are funded using $10 million from the state and federal governments. The funds pay for staff, computer equipment and the vehicles necessary to transport former inmates to and from the centers.


Developing a cohesive re-entry plan for Massachusetts was a central recommendation of both the Governor’s Commission on Criminal Justice Innovation and the Governor’s Commission on Corrections Reform chaired by former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger. As part of their recommendations, both commissions called for improved post-release supervision of former inmates.

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