By TRENTON JOHNSON
Capital News Service
LANSING—The Michigan Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative (MPRI) is developing ways to safely release inmates and prepare them to stay out.
Patricia Caruso, director of the Department of Corrections, called it a comprehensive approach to reducing crime and creating safer neighborhoods through agency and community collaboration.
The program operates statewide and most of the participants are working in their own communities, she said.
One goal is to reduce threats to public safety in the communities to which those offenders return, she said.
The second goal is to increase success rates of offenders who transition from prison with effective risk management and treatment, offender accountability and community and victim participation, she added.
There are MPRI sites around the state, including Grand Traverse, Emmet, Alpena, Cheboygan, Wayne, Macomb, Muskegon and Ingham counties.
From its inception in 2005 through May of 2010, nearly 25,000 prisoners participated in intensive prisoner re-entry.
Preliminary outcome tracking for those cases shows 33 percent fewer returns to prison for parole violations or new crimes, something referred to as recidivism.
Russell Marlan, Executive Bureau administrator at Corrections, said, “Recidivism rates have improved. Parole officers help people be successful. More parole supervision is being provided.”
Marlan said recidivism rates have improved, from a high pf 45.7 percent of 1998 parolees who returns to prison within three years to a low of 36.4 percent of 2006 parolees.
He said 2007 parolees are on track to show a further drop in recidivism once their three-year follow-up ends.
Marlan said Michigan’s overall revocation rate for 2009 was the lowest since at least 1987 and the department expects this year’s rate to be still lower.
The MPRI makes it possible for the Parole Board to release more inmates because of improved risk assessment, offender accountability and better parole outcomes, he said.
According to Caruso, there are three phases to the MPRI- – getting ready, going home and staying home.
Getting ready measures and creates assignments to reduce the offenders’ risks and build on their needs and strengths, she said.
Going home develops a strong, public safety-conscious parole plan and improves release guidelines.
Staying home provides flexible and firm supervision and services, including sanctions for misbehavior.
Caruso said future plans for the initiative includes a website to improve case management. There is also a plan to establish priorities based on risk and time to release to assign prisoners to programs.
Monique Chappa, the MPRI in-reach coordinator in Clare County, said, the program has a positive impact on prisoners.
Chappa said, “We help them get introduced into the work force and help them with setting up resumes and preparing for interviews. We also help them look for employment on the Michigan Talent Bank.”
The MPRI has helped a lot of inmates who lack family support, Chappa added.
© 2010, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Not to be reproduced without permission.
By TRENTON JOHNSON