A recent Justice Policy Institute report based on OSI-Baltimore’s five-year investment in providing reentry services to aging people being released from incarceration was the subject of a lengthy story in the Maryland Daily Record today. An excerpt:
There is usually very little social support for people coming out of prison, according to Deputy Public Defender Becky Feldman, who helped coordinate the release efforts for Ungers. [OSI-Baltimore’s] grant helped provide more robust reentry planning and coordination. Feldman said she hopes the results will persuade the state to invest its own funding in similar services.
“We ask for this all the time and now we have data to support it, which is this model successfully kept our clients on the right path and they reintegrated very well into society,” Feldman said.
In an op-ed for The Hill, JPI Director Marc Schindler wrote about the report’s implications. “In the six years since the decision, we have learned a number of important lessons, the most significant of which is that the Unger experience proves we can safely release people who have committed a serious, violent offense,” he wrote. “And since they’ve been home, the Ungers have been contributing to their communities; as volunteers and mentors they help keep us all safer by encouraging youths to avoid the mistakes they made when they were younger.”
He also discussed how racial discrimination impacted the Unger defendants. “As with everything in America’s justice system, the issue of racial disparity is deeply intertwined and ever-present,” he wrote. “The Unger group were deeply impacted by racial discrimination: almost 90 percent of the Unger group are black, despite only 18 percent of Maryland’s population being black at the time of their convictions. Almost all were convicted by all white judges, juries and prosecutors.”