Every night between midnight and 3 AM the State of California releases approximately 10,000 men and women who have been incarcerated back to the county where they were sentenced. Many of these people have no family or friends to meet them; and they have no place to go once they are released. So in essence the majority of those coming back home each night are instantly homeless.
Statistics show that the first three days after one’s release is when they are most at risk of re-offending and landing quickly back in prison–primarily because they lack the basic resources of money, shelter and support. The State’s sky-high recidivism rate is a testament to how “broken” the system of “reentry” is.
But there is a ray of light. Contra Costa County (in the Bay Area) has taken on the issues of reentry by initiating a county-wide effort to feed, house, train and mentor their “returning citizens.” And in this video–which is the first to document this extraordinary program–you’ll hear how Contra Costa County Supervisors, Police Chiefs, the Sheriff’s Department, Probation as well as faith-based groups and business leaders are volunteering to help solve the reentry problem. And making a difference.
While none of those we interviewed claim it’s a perfect program, the numbers show that the love, care and concern demonstrated toward those coming out of our prisons has made a real difference in people’s lives. In fact the county’s recidivism rate, which was hovering around 65% when the program started a couple of years ago, is around 30% today.
We hope this program inspires you to help make a difference in someone’s life today.
And as always please feel free to post your comments.