County adopts plan to prevent offenders from returning to jail

May 12, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 8 a.m. May 12, 2011

King County leaders accepted a plan Monday to prevent offenders from returning to jail, and to help former offenders transition from incarceration to society.

The decision enables the county to access funds through the federal Second Chance Act, a measure meant to provide social services to prevent recidivism among former offenders.

The legislation authorizes federal grants to government agencies and nonprofit organizations to provide employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, housing and other services.

“I was pleased to put together a motion calling for the plan in July, and I am more pleased that we have adopted that plan,” Councilman Reagan Dunn, prime sponsor and Issaquah-area representative, said in a statement. “During these times of seriously declining resources, we need to do everything we can to position ourselves to compete for resources.”

Congress recently authorized $83 million for Second Chance Act programs. The federal government awards grants to local and state governments for the implementation of reentry programs for released prison and jail inmates. In order to be eligible for the funds, local governments must put re-entry program in place.

The program adopted Monday focuses on coordinating human services and criminal justice activities.

“This plan puts King County in the position to seek federal funding for programs and services aimed at reducing recidivism,” Councilman Bob Ferguson — the council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee chairman — said in a statement. “Setting people up for success after being released from jail improves public safety and improves outcomes for those individuals and their families.”

The decision burnishes both councilmen’s records on crime fighting in the race for state attorney general.

Ferguson, a Democrat, entered the race in February. Dunn, a Republican, is considering a bid for the office.

Observers expect current Attorney General Rob McKenna to enter the race for governor in the months ahead.

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