Carson family center to pilot inmate re-entry program | NevadaAppeal.com

Carson family center to pilot inmate re-entry program

Carson City’s Ron Woods Family Resource Center has offered to take on the

challenge of developing a re-entry program to help newly released prison

inmates.

Center Director Joyce Buckingham told the Advisory Commission on

Administration of Justice the center would try to develop a pilot program

that could eventually be extended statewide to help inmates get proper

identification, housing, jobs, food and services such as drug counseling if

needed.

The need for re-entry programs has been pushed for years by advocates and

caseworkers within the Parole and Probation Division, the prison system as

well as inmate support groups. Even law enforcement officials have testified

that inmates who have support once they leave prison are much less likely to

commit another crime.

Buckingham said they proposed working with inmates beginning 90 days before

their release to assess what they will need. Each inmate would have a

caseworker who would also keep tabs on them, ensuring they take required

counseling and medicines, monitoring how well they are doing.

“Then we would greet the individual at the gate and pretty much do

handholding for 90 days,” she said adding that the monitoring could be

extended as long as a year.

She said the resource center already deals with most of the agencies and

nonprofits which provide the services inmates would need, including the

Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, religious and other

counseling services.

She said they would be able to help released inmates with employment, tools,

uniforms, bus passes and other services.

Buckingham said there are already ex-inmates who “find their way to us”

because they need help and this program would just formalize it. But she

said the center can’t accept violent inmates or sex offenders.

“After all, I’m running a family resource center,” she said.

She said all the necessary tools are there.

“The money was the issue,” she said.

Commission Chairman Supreme Court Justice Jim Hardesty said the idea, which

originally came from Assemblywoman RoseMary Womack, D-Las Vegas, was an

excellent concept that could greatly improve services to newly released

inmates.

After hearing her proposed budget was for just $3,200 this year, he said he

would take the issue of funding up with the Legislative Interim Finance

Committee, which has money set aside for that purpose.

Parole and Probation Chief John Gonska urged her to bring the concept to Las

Vegas as well saying, “We really need you.”

Buckingham said the idea would have to start small with just 100 inmates but

that, eventually, she would like to see it expand to all 17 Nevada counties,

all of which have family resource centers.

“Success is going to be taking this show on the road,” she said.

€ Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.