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Gov. Carney sets up commission to revise inmate re-entry protocols

Sarah Mueller

Delaware seeks to reduce its high rates of incarceration and recidivism by revamping its re-entry procedures.

Gov. John Carney (D) signed an executive order creating a commission to examine current policies and recommend improvements.

The aim is to have various state agencies work better to help ex-offenders successfully reenter society. It will rely on evidence-based approaches.

Secretary of Labor Cerron Cade says a job is an important factor in reducing recidivism. He says he’s working to decrease barriers to employment. Cade talked about his experience as child when his father, who had a criminal record was looking for a job.

“And when the call didn’t come, it was Dad who, it was his way of telling you that he didn’t get the job when he came to you and said you can use the phone now. No child in Delaware should have to deal with that. No father, mother should have to deal with that.”

About 76 percent of Delaware’s ex-offenders are rearrested within three years. Debro Abdul-Habar of Delaware Peacemakers says that’s because they go back to the same environments where they first got into trouble. The executive order cites several factors for the recidivism rates, including homelessness, mental health issues, addiction and lack of transportation.

“They’re playing catch up, they don’t have like I said have healthy environment to go in," he said. "They may have to go live with parents or siblings or girlfriends that’s still strung out on drugs, participating in criminal activities.”

Jim Elder, who heads Community Corrections for the Delaware Department of Correction, points to inmates’ attitudes, friends and personality traits as main drivers of recidivism. He said they plan to work with inmates on their re-entry plans from when they enter prison. The goal is to provide them more programs, counseling and skills training to make sure they’re more successful when they leave.

The DOC Office of Research and Planning will now include re-entry and will oversee the implementation of the commission’s recommendations.

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