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Monday, June 1, 2015

Andrew Cuomo
ALBANY — The Niagara County Probation Department is the recipient of a $100,000 state grant to help transition former prisoners into productive members of society, according to a release today from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office.

In all, Gov. Cuomo announced $3.3 million statewide for re-entry task forces in 19 counties that coordinate and manage services for formerly incarcerated individuals to successfully transition back to their communities.

“This funding will jumpstart local efforts to help formerly incarcerated individuals build a positive future as they return to their communities,” Gov. Cuomo said. “By investing in substance abuse programs, mental healthcare, job training opportunities and similar initiatives, we are making the re-entry process safer for everyone involved. This is all about making New York a stronger and more secure place to live and work, and I am proud to be supporting our partners across the state.”

The task forces are designed to reduce recidivism and enhance public safety by supporting community-based programs. Included is funding to hire a coordinator for each task force, in addition to services for formerly incarcerated individuals that otherwise would not be available.

To receive the funding, each task force was required to detail a plan for delivering targeted, evidence-based programs and services to individuals. This included mandatory cognitive behavioral intervention, which is designed to address risk factors for recidivism and change behavior. Services also include substance abuse and mental health treatment, job training, placement and skill development.

Aside from Niagara County, task forces are located in Albany, Broome, Bronx, Dutchess, Erie, Kings (Brooklyn), Monroe, Nassau, New York (Manhattan), Oneida, Onondaga, Orange, Rensselaer, Rockland, Schenectady, Suffolk, Ulster and Westchester counties.

The state Division of Criminal Justice Services administers the funding and works in partnership with the non-profit organizations that received the grants, providing technical assistance, training and feedback to ensure the task forces are implementing evidence-based programs as they are designed.

Michael C. Green, Executive Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Criminal Justice Services, said, “Our staff has done extensive research to explore programs that work to keep parolees out of prison once they return to their communities, as well as the programs that do not. We are committed to ensuring that programs we fund produce the best results and get the best return, not only in financial but human terms. Effective re-entry programs help offenders change their behavior so they can live productive, crime free lives, which reduces victimization and makes New York a safer place.”

The task forces are made up of local representatives from law enforcement, community supervision, social services, mental health, victim advocacy and substance abuse treatment providers. In each of the 19 counties, the re-entry task forces are chaired by a representative of the county’s chief elected official and a representative from the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

The funding cycle runs from July 1 through June 30, 2016, with programs eligible to receive up to four annual renewals. Grants are awarded to counties and/or specific county agencies, which in turn partner with non-profit organizations, or directly to non-profit organizations.

The Niagara County Probation Department will partner with Community Missions in administering the grant.

The Division of Criminal Justice Services and the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision also are partnering with the Department of Labor to host job summits to support professionals that specialize in re-entry and the work of the task forces. The first summit was held earlier this month in New York City and two others will be hosted in the Capital Region and Western New York in the coming months.

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