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Mayor Baraka, Senator Booker, and Congressman Payne Announce $1 Million "Second Chance" Grant

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Three-year partnership between City and Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice will target re-entering ex-offenders who are highest risk for being involved in homicide; Newark Reentry Initiative will use data and evidence-based strategies.

Mayor Ras J. Baraka, U.S. Senator Cory A. Booker and U.S. Representative Donald M. Payne, Jr. today announced the Newark Reentry Initiative to support individuals who are returning home from incarceration and at the highest risk for being involved in a homicide. The program is funded by a U.S. Department of Justice-funded $1 million grant. The announcement was made at a 10:30 news conference at Rutgers Law School, Newark. Rutgers School of Criminal Justice Dean Dr. Rod Brunson and City of Newark Office of Reentry Director Fred Murphy were also at the launch.

The “Second Chance” program is a partnership between the City of Newark and Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice, focused on returning offenders, who are most at-risk to commit or be victims of a homicide.

"Statistics show that individuals returning from incarceration to society are more likely to be involved in a homicide as perpetrators or victims within their first year of release,” Mayor Baraka said. “We have to end this tragic cycle. This initiative, which is research and evidence-based, is intended to save lives and to enable individuals who were formerly incarcerated to lead productive lives and contribute to their families’ success and Newark’s growth. I welcome this federal grant, the support of our legislative team in developing it, and the partnership with the School of Criminal Justice to help avert homicides.”

“Ever since my time as Mayor of Newark, I have been committed to fixing our broken criminal justice system by addressing the profound over-incarceration of Americans and creating better pathways to reentry,” said Senator Booker. “Our broken justice system has fractured American families, disproportionately undermined communities of color, and wasted taxpayer dollars. This federal grant takes a critical step toward putting justice back into our system by investing in a strategic program design to reduce recidivism rates and assisting returning citizens who paid their debts to society access the American Dream.”

“Newark has laid out a bold vision for improving re-entry outcomes, and this federal funding will help the city carry out that vision,” said Congressman Payne. “With these funds, Newark will have the resources to curb recidivism while putting in place infrastructure to enable re-entering individuals to make positive contributions to society. I will continue to fight for federal resources to support re-entry programs in our communities.”

Dean Brunson sees particular strength in this initiative’s emphasis on leveraging expertise from scholars and professionals who approach the same problem from different perspectives. “The challenges facing individuals re-entering communities from incarceration are multi-dimensional, so we need people coming at those challenges from multiple perspectives if our solutions are to be sustainable. The School of Criminal Justice is committed to this kind of collaboration and we look forward to working with Mayor Baraka and the City of Newark on this innovative effort,” Dean Brunson said.

NRI will use crime and parole data and evidence-based strategies in order to develop a model that will target those individuals who have recently returned home from incarceration and are at the highest risk for being involved in a homicide. In addition to decreasing recidivism, this program will also positively impact violent crime in the City of Newark.

31 % (approximately 32 individuals) of homicide victims were killed within 12 months of release from state prison or Essex County custody. 53% (approximately 55 individuals) of homicide suspects were involved in a murder incident within 12 months of release from state prison or Essex County custody.

o 2015 data shows that the majority of homicides committed in the city occur in the South and West Wards. There were 104 homicides in the City of Newark in 2015.

o Of the murder victims, 84% (approximately 87 individuals) were known to the criminal justice system and had an average of 9.4 prior arrests. Of the homicide suspects, 91% (approximately 95 individuals) were known to the criminal justice system and had an average of 8.5 prior arrests.

o NRI will work intensively with 75 individuals in this high risk population, which will also focus on the city’s homicide rate.

o The City and the School of Criminal Justice will engage in a planning period and NRI will begin recruiting participants and delivering services in October 2017.

o At the end of the planning period, the City and School of Criminal Justice will introduce a strategic reentry plan.

o During the planning period, the School of Criminal Justice will develop an instrument that will identify individuals who will be released and who are at the highest risk of becoming a victim or suspect in a homicide within their first twelve months of release from incarceration.

o Once these individuals are identified, The City of Newark will provide them with wrap-around services including transitional employment, a case manager, a social worker and a mentor.

o The transitional employment will assist individuals with obtaining employment experience, teach them soft skills, and help them build up their resumes.

o The case managers, social worker and mentors will work together to assist these individuals with building and maintaining a positive support system, accessing services and addressing mental health issues. o NRI will also have emergency funds available to assist participants with housing, healthcare and any other emergency needs.

o The School of Criminal Justice will perform an evaluation of the NRI during years two and three of the grant.