Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Gov. Tom Wolf Monday joined representatives from communities throughout Pennsylvania, along with officials from local, state and federal agencies, to announce the creation of the Pennsylvania Reentry Council, an innovative effort to make communities safer by reducing recidivism and improving prisoner reentry across the Commonwealth.
“For too long, we’ve relied solely on incarceration to prevent crime and violence,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “When two of every three people emerging from jail commit another crime and return, it’s clear the system is broken. By working collaboratively with law enforcement, state and local government and communities, we can create new strategies to expand opportunities and assist returning citizens as they reenter their communities, and make our Commonwealth safer as a result.”
“I am proud to announce the creation of the Pennsylvania Reentry Council with Attorney General Shapiro,” Gov. Wolf said. “This council will bring together stakeholders and service providers across the industry and be the center of reentry efforts in Pennsylvania – because it is in ALL of our interests that reentrants to the community are as successful as possible in their transition back home.”
Four state agencies — the Office of Attorney General, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the Department of Corrections, and the Board of Probation and Parole — will coordinate the Pennsylvania Reentry Council.
These lead agencies will be joined by eight other state agencies, 21 Reentry Coalitions from communities across the Commonwealth, all three U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in Pennsylvania, and other re-entry experts.
Joining Attorney General Shapiro and Gov. Wolf at today’s announcement in the Governor’s Reception Room were Robert K. Reed, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Public Engagement, along with representatives of the above state agencies and stakeholder groups.
Two other speakers at the press conference were El Sawyer, an ex-offender from Philadelphia, and Melanie Snyder, a reentry official from Lancaster County, representing the 21 community reentry councils, a unique aspect of this new effort aimed at prevention and public safety.
The Pennsylvania Reentry Council also held its first meeting Monday in the Office of Attorney General. The Council will meet quarterly as it works through addressing the primary challenges facing returning citizens and communities.
Those challenges include:
-- Access to housing (majority of landlords screen out tenants with criminal records);
-- Access to education (40 percent of incarcerated adults have no high school diploma);
-- Barriers to employment (Ban the box and related issues);
-- Access to treatment for healthcare, addiction, mental health; and
-- Access to driver’s licenses, social security cards and documents essential to obtaining employment, housing, other assistance.
“The Reentry Council is an important step for the Attorney General’s Office and its local, state, and federal partners to make communities safer by providing opportunities for returning citizens and assisting them in making choices that will help keep them out of prison,” Reed said.
Immediately following the press conference, the inaugural meeting of the Pennsylvania Reentry Council will be held at the Office of Attorney General in Strawberry Square.“Today’s announcement of the Pennsylvania Reentry Council is a beginning,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “Now the real work begins as we develop and execute prevention and reentry strategies that make Pennsylvania communities safer for everyone.”