Katherine Robinson is a member of the new Ex-Offender Re-entry committee because she has friends and family members that have been incarcerated. She has seen their difficulty in getting a job and housing and she worries about them getting in trouble again.

“I believe that our city can be a place where no one who leaves jail ever has to go back. I believe that our city can be a place where making a mistake doesn’t brand you for life and where people who go to jail have a real opportunity to reform themselves. I believe Jacksonville will be that city.

We like to say amazing grace, how sweet the sound. Yet if you’re an ex-offender in our city that sweet sound is often replaced by the bitter noise of rejection from job opportunities, family members, and more often than not the sound of yet another jail cell door slamming behind you”.

Problem: 33,000 people were released from incarceration into Duval County last year. 

Findings:

  • 1 in 3 ex-offenders will reoffend.
  • $18,064 per year to house an inmate in a Florida prison (FL DOC).
  • The Jacksonville Re-Entry Center is a national model in serving ex-offenders. They provide wrap-around services to ex-offenders including clothing, I.D.s, food, mental health counseling, and other necessary services Only 1 in 5 of their clients reoffend. This center saved the city 4.5 million dollars last year.

Next Steps:

  • At the 2016 Nehemiah Assembly, ICARE asked our Sheriff to prioritize this center by allocating more funds to it’s budget over the next few years. The Sheriff agreed to work with ICARE to identify funds at the state and federal level. He also agreed to do an audit of his reentry services to assess their effectiveness. We are glad the Jacksonville Reentry Center is a priority of his administration and we plan to hold him accountable to his commitment to increase funding.
  • Last year, it served over 600 people. This is not enough to serve over 1600 people eligible for the program.In 2017 the center will have five new staff persons that will allow it to serve more people. They are especially focused on making sure that ex-offenders are receiving mental health services as soon as they need them.