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Federal grant goes to Sussex nonprofit to reduce recidivism

Sussex County nonprofit The Way Home is receiving a federal grant to reduce recidivism in the First State.

The Way Home is based in Georgetown and has been helping formerly incarcerated individuals transition back into Delaware communities for 20 years. It is receiving a $500,000 competitive grant awarded through the Department of Justice as part of the Second Chance Act signed into law earlier this year.

Executive Director Paullete Rappa says the grant is designed to assist community reentry programs in rural areas.

“Here in Sussex, we have a lack of transportation, a lack of diversity of jobs, a lack of mental and behavioral health resources and often that leads to the high recidivism rate,” said Rappa.

A Delaware Criminal Justice Council study shows more than two-thirds of the inmates released from Delaware prisons are recommitted. The Way Home’s new program seeks to reduce that rate by 20% and do the same for the homelessness rate among formerly incarcerated citizens.

Delaware’s Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long spoke at a formal announcement for The Way Home’s award Tuesday.

“Having community-based programs to support people when they come out as they’re searching for employment, as they’re searching for housing is absolutely critical,” said Hall-Long.

The new funds will help start eligible inmates on a cognitive curriculum called “thinking for a change” six months ahead of their release and offer continued support for up to 12 months after their release.

Rappa says the supports will be individualized and could include cognitive behavioral therapy, transitional housing and workplace development with peer mentors.

“So those dollars are going to be spent on creating that infrastructure to support them, and the process being a year instead of saying, ‘Here’s a coat, here’s some gloves, here’s a transitional home. Have at it,’” said Rappa.

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