Missouri Department of Corrections aims to ‘reimagine what reentry looks like in Missouri’
Missouri has become the first state to join Reentry 2030, a national effort focused on improving people’s chances of success upon reentry to society after incarceration. Dozens of people working in Missouri corrections and reentry gathered in Jefferson City yesterday to celebrate and mark the launch of the initiative.
The initiative is a partnership between the Correctional Leaders Association, the Council of State Governments Justice Center and JustLeadershipUSA. It is funded mostly through the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance and philanthropy Arnold Ventures.
Anne Precythe, the director of the Missouri Department of Corrections, said the Department has three “ambitious goals” focused on employment.
By 2030, the department aims to:
- Provide 100% of incarcerated Missourians with career readiness services.
- Help 85% of people find a job within 30 days of release.
- Help 80% of those people keep their job for at least nine months.
“We know that if people are employed, that means that they have the basic supports in their life that are going well, which means they can keep their job,” Precythe said. “At the end of the day, we think that's what's going to make our communities safer and better for everybody.
These basic supports can include things like job training, but also behavioral health assistance, transportation, access to birth certificates and other identification, as well as access to adequate shelter and food.
Precythe said this initiative and the expanded partnerships it creates will help “bridge the gap” to success for those in reentry.
Alex Earls, the reentry manager for the Missouri Department of Corrections, said the support and commitment of other state and local agencies, as well as partnerships with community service providers, is essential to the initiative’s success – and the success of formerly incarcerated individuals.
“In order to have stable employment, in order to have a career, we have to have basic needs met. We have to have our medical situations under control. We have to have our substance use issues in check. We have to make sure that our mental health is in a proper spot. We’ve got to make sure that our family structures are going well,” Earls said.
“So, as we look at employment, it's the end result of all the other basic needs.”
Numerous partners spoke at the kickoff event – including Gov. Mike Parson, Megan Quattlebaum with the Council of State Governments Justice Center and Heather Tubman-Carbone with the Bureau of Justice Assistance.
“I want people to get out,” Parson said. “But I also want them to come out and learn a trade. I don’t care what it is – plumbing, electrical, driving a truck, whatever it might be. Give them every advantage you can give them while they’re there. Give them education, things they can commit to as they come out, and I think that’s what Reentry 2030 is all about.”
These individuals with increased training, additional skills and more education can then be hired for jobs Missouri employers may be struggling to fill in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You know, the Economic Community is screaming, ‘We need people,'” Precythe said. “Well, here I am with 13,000 [Missourians] coming out every year – new to the workforce. I got people, so how we can commit and every department that is represented today has a role in helping corrections in one way or another.”
According to the Department of Corrections, about 13,000 Missourians are released from prison each year, and 53,000 Missourians are on probation or parole.
Several formerly incarcerated individuals also spoke at the event – including Roy Farmer who works in remodeling in Jefferson City and Trey Dawes who owns BackyardK9, a dog training business in Columbia.
They both stressed the need for more support and training as people exit prison including things like typing skills, assistance with transportation and help obtaining necessary identification.
“I loved how the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Highway Patrol was talking about being able to get people equipped with driver's license and things like that,” Dawes said. “I think these are all extremely tangible things that are important, and that [show] this just isn't a meet and greet and a nice Facebook post – that there's actually stuff getting done here.”
Leaders from Missouri state agencies then stood and shared each of their Reentry 2030 commitments. Some of which included:
- The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education pledged to expand vocational rehabilitation services to all correctional centers.
- The Department of Health & Senior Services pledged to help peopleobtain their birth certificates in a timely manner.
- The Department of Labor & Industrial Relations pledged to increase awareness of the Second Chance Employers program.
- The Department of Public Safety pledged to provide written driver license tests in all correctional facilities.
You can read a full list of the Reentry 2030 State Agencies Commitment’s below.
Dan Hanneken, the executive director of in2Actionin Columbia, attended the launch and works alongside people in reentry every day. He said it didn’t surprise him that Missouri was the first state to join the Reentry 2030 initiative as “we’ve been a leader for years.”
“One of the things that I think is really great about Missouri, and the Department of Corrections especially, is they recognize that the voices at the community level need to be heard, and that the work has to be done at the community level,” Hanneken said.
He added that while he encouraged to hear people in reentry have the support of those at the highest levels of state government, “unfortunately, it all boils back down to funding.”
Director Precythe said Reentry 2030 is not a funding mechanism for programs, but the money for projects already identified and planned by the DOC will come from the DOC budget, the General Assembly, through grants and from partnerships with other state agencies like the Department of Social Services and the Department of Mental Health.
”And as we see big goals that need to be tackled, we're going to have to figure out where does the funding come from? What are the avenues that we have available to us?” Precythe added.
The Department of Corrections will begin to bring together for their Reentry 2030 advisory team in the coming weeks.