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An Open Letter to Connecticut
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy
and Our State Legislators:
On the State’s Plan to Cut Funding for
By Rev. Jeff Grant, JD, M Div
Dear Governor Malloy and
Our Connecticut State Legislators,
I am on the Board of Directors of Family ReEntry, an essential nonprofit agency serving released inmates and their families in Fairfield and New Haven Counties.
These reentry services include critical mental health and substance abuse treatment for over 1,500 Paroles each year – thus increasing public safety, reducing recidivism, and decreasing the collateral consequences and costs. In addition, Family ReEntry provides effective interventions for over 1,200 family violence offenders throughout the State – resulting in significant reductions in the victimization of women and children. These programs help halt the tragic intergenerational cycle of violence and abuse.
Family ReEntry Youth Programs focus on prevention and very early intervention for children of incarcerated parents and youth involved in the Juvenile Justice System – thus saving lives and dollars. Other community justice providers across the State are essential to the social order, humane and effective care, and public safety.
Without these services, crime will increase, incarceration will increase, associated costs will increase, unemployment will increase, and communities will suffer. This is not an attractive climate for business!
I am reaching out to implore you to do everything in your power to prevent budget cuts in the community justice sector.
Cuts already implemented have devastated the community justice providers across the State. Family ReEntry, for example, has lost 67% of its Department of Corrections community programs, including two large mental health and substance abuse treatment programs, which were already over utilized by 450 Parolees and were projected to effectively assess and treat 1,600 by June 30 when the contracts are terminated. What happens to public safety after that? And these are only two of the many mental and substance abuse treatments programs eliminated this week.
If you recall, it did not go so well when hundreds of psychiatric facilities were closed in the U.S. According to the NYT, the policies that led to the release of most of the nation’s mentally ill patients from the hospital to the community without appropriate care in the community are now widely regarded as a major failure. Sweeping critiques of the policies, notably a report of the American Psychiatric Association, have spread the blame everywhere, faulting politicians…..and others. Another dismal policy failure should not be your legacy.
Some relevant points for you to consider:
Find Another Way: Please attempt to meet the projected budget deficits without devastating the nonprofit human services and criminal justice (CJ) sectors. Even a small reduction in these sectors will have a devastating and lasting ripple effect. In the long-term, these cuts will increase costs and leave a legacy of human and social destruction.
Plan Long-Term: Create a long term State Budget plan that funds human services and community justice at appropriate levels that maintain quality of care and a stable workforce. Nonprofits are businesses throughout the State – vital to the State’s economy and its ability to attract new businesses.
Don’t Compromise Public Safety: Cuts to the criminal justice sector will result in decreased public safety (and commensurate costs) and setback much needed criminal justice system reforms (with commensurate human, societal, and financial costs).
Don’t Retreat: Decimating the community justice sector and the mental health and substance abuse sectors will make future structural changes and savings much less likely. “You cannot build an effective and efficient criminal justice system on a weak crumbling foundation destroyed in fiscal years 16, 17, and 18.”
Consider Alternative Solutions: Although long-term structural changes are needed in the State’s Budget, the only way to achieve the long-term fiscal and policy goals without major setbacks is a combination of carefully targeted and realistic expense reductions and some increases in revenue. Consider other investment strategies in the nonprofit sector, such as Social Impact Bonds and similar instruments.
Focus on Effectiveness: Like other providers in the CJ sector, Family ReEntry is a high-impact, cost-effective provider of community justice services for reentering citizens, those suffering from mental health & substance abuse, perpetrators of family/domestic violence, and at-risk youth and families. These services are proven to decrease costs, increase public safety, reduce victimization, and create a climate for business growth in the State.
I have confidence in you and all the leadership to recognize that Connecticut holds a unique position in this country – we have a safe place to live and work that leads the nation in social reform. It is inconsistent and simply wrong to cut funding at a time when the Federal government and our sister states finally recognize the scope and severity of criminal justice, mental health and substance abuse problems, and are redoubling their efforts and funding to find solutions.
We need to keep moving forward and use justice reinvestment strategies to provide an ever safer, more secure and more enlightened place for our children to grow and prosper. We must keep our eye on the long-term prize, not cave to short-term budget demands. Otherwise, what do we have left?
Please feel free to call upon me if I can provide any service in this regard.
Thank you for your consideration of these critical issues.
Rev. Jeff Grant
provided key points incorporated in this letter.
Comments from Social Media:
Alison O Jordan: “There are cost benefits to consider as well – linkages to primary care after incarceration using an evidence- informed intervention have found reductions in ED use and improvements in socioeconomic status that reduce other systems costs and improve lives (see paper below). Health outcomes for HIV-infected persons released from the New York City jail system with a transitional care-coordination plan. . Citation Am J Public Health. 2015 Feb;105(2):351-7. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302234.”
Laura Lillian Best Absolutely! Second Chance Initiatives WILL NOT Work without Reentry Initiatives!
Irma Fordin Ceglia Well said
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Progressive Prison Project/ Innocent Spouse & Children Project
Rev. Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Minister/Director