Pastor Bruce Havens is a former Co-President of ICARE and Pastor of Arlington UCC Church.
“The Jacksonville Reentry Center is the key to rebuilding lives for those who come out of the penal system and need help restarting. It’s effectiveness is evident in the statistics – over 80% [ check my number please ] of those who get the services JREC provides do not re-offend. And the second statistic is dollars: it saves millions of dollars in rearresting, prosecuting, and jailing recidivists. But for me the most important part isn’t a statistic, it is the lives that those statistics point to – lives who get a second chance to live up to the potential God has given them, and God knows we all need second chances. Doing justice means putting God’s love into action so that someone who needs a second chance gets it.”
Problem: 33,000 people were released from incarceration into Duval County last year.
- 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.
- 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 plan to hold him accountable to his commitment to increase funding.
- In 2017 the center did hire five new staff persons that allowed it to serve more people. They were especially focused on making sure that ex-offenders are receiving mental health services as soon as they needed them. However, in our last meetings with the Sheriff we found that the increased funding has been lost. He alerted us that over $600,000 in grants were given back to the state due to mismanagement of funds. This is unacceptable. That is why we plan to challenge our Sheriff at the 2018 Action to prioritize this important program by restoring the funding that was lost.
- At the 2018 Action, the Sheriff agreed to increase the budget for JREC by $300,000. The funding will come from the city instead of a state grant that can’t be renewed.