Key elements of a re-entry court for people transitioning from prison to community

Guest bloggers Judge William Knight, Caroline Cooper and David Wexler describe the Louisiana Reentry Court and identify features that may be exportable into other jurisdictions…

Under the leadership of Judge William Knight, Louisiana’s 22nd Judicial District (St. Tammany and Washington Parishes) launched a Reentry Court for “high risk/high needs” offenders with multiple prior felony convictions for nonviolent property and substance abuse offences.

Instituted in 2011, the program is becoming a statewide model and may have “exportable” elements that other jurisdictions may want to consider and potentially adapt including:

  • The sentencing Judge retains jurisdiction following prison release:
    • an adaptation of the existing sentencing framework through use of “split sentencing” – period of incarceration is followed by probation with court retaining supervision authority.
  • Seamless transition from institutional treatment and support services to community based treatment and support services
  • Continuity of participant/case management relationship from sentencing through incarceration
  • On-going multi-agency collaboration
  • Public/private partnerships to promote a continuum of care starting from sentencing through program completion and aftercare

The establishment of the program involved:

  • Engaging multiple agencies/branches of government to promote the program
  • Proposing the program as a local pilot
  • Educating the justice system, other stakeholders and the general public about the program
  • Retaining flexibility while keeping site on the overall purpose of the program

Read more about the program:  Knight, William and Cooper, Caroline and Wexler, David B., Louisiana Reentry Court Promotes Seamless Transition between Sentencing, Incarceration and Post Release Services – Some Potential Exportable Elements (February 15, 2017). Available at SSRN click here.

For further information on the program, contact: Judge William Knight at wjknight@stpgov.org and/or: Felix Indest, Project Director at findest@stpgov.org

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5 Responses to Key elements of a re-entry court for people transitioning from prison to community

  1. tina previtera says:

    I am interested in the concept of split sentencing. I utilise it at times in the sentencing of aboriginal offenders so that they are supervised on a community based order on some charges whilst other, usually more serious charges remain pending in the Murri Court; with their response to supervision taken into account when they are sentenced for the more serious charges. I would be interested in what others do/think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mainstreamtj says:

      That is interesting Tina. Ultimately It seems you are determining what the prospects of rehabilitation are by setting up a trial period so that that can considered that in sentencing for the other offenses. In Victoria the Sentencing Act s83A formally allows for deferral of sentence for 18-25yr olds but for other offenders judicial officers will also adjourn matters part heard to enable a person to undertake rehabilitative programs and then consider how a person has gone in that deferral or adjourned period in final sentencing. If the ultimate goal is to motivate change and reduce offending through rehabilitation then these types of monitored approaches are a good idea.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. davidbwexler says:

    I find both posts very interesting and impt. a related technique used in arizona and described by judge mike jones is a “probation tail”–an incarcerative sentence followed by a probationary one….this done usually by way of a plea bargain to two offenses, the second of which is probation eligible….in arizona, it is apparently done in order to have supervision done by well trained and well resourced PROBATION officers instead of by overworked and understaffed PAROLE officers… and as the above Blog post shows, this arrangement can also be used to have supervision by the SENTENCING judge(assuming judicial monitoring is part of the applicable law), thus enabling a judge to in essence create his/her own reentry court, one case at a time. thoughts?

    Like

    • mainstreamtj says:

      For sure David. In Victorian Sentencing Act we can now sentence to a term of imprisonment followed by a community corrections order (probation). Various types of rehabilitative conditions can be set on the CCO including judicial monitoring that brings the person back before the judicial officer who sentenced. So a reentry court type arrangement can happen. The element that is missing is the continuity of care but we could work on that. Is there anything like this in Qld Tina? Anyone else wish to contribute?

      Like

  3. Pingback: Creating a Re-Entry Court by wagging the probation tail | Therapeutic Jurisprudence in the Mainstream

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