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Lawmakers, Ex-Offenders Blast Prison Reentry Cut
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In Governor Rell's first budget proposal, she praised the effectiveness of the Department of Correction's reentry programs.

But when Rell offered a new package of proposed cuts last month, she recommended eliminating funding for one of them.

The Stride program starts working with inmates while they're still in prison, and follows them after release as they find jobs and reunite with their families. The program costs $300,000 dollars a year.

"We will fight to keep these programs, because they make sense for the state."

Denise Merrill is the House Majority Leader. When she chaired the Appropriations Committee, she watched incarceration costs grow and take up a bigger share of the budget. But she says this cut is a bad idea.

"There's a big difference between cutting programs and controlling costs in the budget. What we should be doing is controlling costs and not randomly cutting programs that are actually making money for us and helping people."

Most of the ex-offenders in the Stride program are women. All the clients are parents of children who have been on public assistance. The program has served more than 700 people in the last ten years. Just seven percent have gone back to prison, while the average recidivism rate in the state is more than five times that. 

Susan Menefee is a Stride client. She went to jail in 2004 addicted to crack cocaine. Stride prepared her for release with counseling and job search skills,  and she ended up with a job at a major hotel. 

"My children got their mother back. My husband got his wife back. And my community received a member willing to help it grow rather than being a menace."

Rell budget office spokesman Jeff Beckham called the Stride program a nice extra when there is a lot of money, but he said balancing this budget requires making some some tough cuts. 



You can't see what's going on?

How many deals are being made on Capitol Hill? Do you really believe that doesn't trickle down to individual States?

There's big money in keeping people locked up...(Corrections Corporation of America).

Eliminating the STRIDE Program is a clear indication it's not about saving money and making the population it serves become responsible, productive members of society; It's about diverting money into private hands.

When are we ever going to wake up...When we start asking two questions...(WHY?) and (DOES IT MAKE SENSE?)

This program has a success rate & cost $4,200 / per client

My initial reaction was 'go ahead and cut the program- then, use this elimination to restore cuts to the technical schools funding'.  Technical schools are needed now more than ever to allow a non-college option for high school graduates.

After running the numbers-based upon the above article, I figure it cost about $4,200 per client.  A seemingly small price for success.  

Perhaps the State has another option.  Keep the program and funding, but require this program to reach MORE clients.  If this program is more successful than others (yes...there are probably many other funded programs), than eliminate/consolidate other state program funding from the less successful, and expand this program to reach those clients.  

I would think lawmakers have cost per client data (I'm an optimist), and i suppose it is possible the Stride program is expensive (per client) compared to others.  Either way, the program works.  The state needs to ensure this successful process & knowledge does not get eliminated - funding or no funding.

A billion dollars is an

A billion dollars is an awful lot of money. With the homeless statute people can get fed

and no psych treatment which is real high.

Mr, Beckhem, You are wrong

Mr, Beckhem,

You are wrong this program is not "a nice extra". If you are willing to lock people up and pay that cost then you better figure into your cost the price of putting them back into society. I wonder what your answer would be if all the states released persons were released into your hometown with nothing but what they went in with.



Seems to me it would make

Seems to me it would make more sense to keep this program that actually helps convicts become useful, responsible people and instead, save $300,000 by actually executing the people on death row, who will never be useful members of society.  The money saved just on the cost of incarceration will pay for this program, let alone the millions spent on ridiculous appeals for the lifetime of these beasts. 

state budget/ save some money

  Have a little sympathy for the families who are denied closure for their loved ones who were murdered by these animals on death row.  Did these people get to have seven years before their lives were taken from them? NO ! What do we do with rabid dogs ? We kill them so that they cannot further harm society . How can true justice be served if the lives of the victoms is made to seem less important than that of the criminals ? people need closure. What I find most distasteful is the fact that we, the public, must sufffer the indignity of providing for these animals through our tax dollars. You want to save some money, give a little back,....  grow some balls and put the dogs down, let true justice be served. they are supposed to die.    let them.