In the United States, approximately 1.6 million people are incarcerated in federal, state and county prisons- 95% will be released back into our communities. Nationwide, 68% of released offenders were rearrested for a new crime within three years; 77% were arrested within five years. Of those arrested within three years, 57% were arrested by the end of their first year out.
Of the 152 clients that have been served and no longer require support, only 7% were known to have been reconvicted and returned to prison. This success needs to be sustained long-term if we truly want to change our community for the better.
The Erie County Re-Entry Services and Support Alliance (ECRSSA) provides support and services to transitioning clients through a network of community and faith-based organizations in partnership with the criminal justice system. Our vision is to support, empower, and help to fully integrate transitioning clients back into our community. The ECRSSA will help the participant with accessing and attaining job training, employment, education, medical and mental health care, housing support, etc. GECAC believes change in people is possible. We see it every day as the men and women in our care work to further their educations, learn and heal from past mistakes, and make plans for a better future. Our dedicated team of re-entry professionals offer peer support to help with frustrations around re-entry and breaking out of a criminal lifestyle.
The ECRSSA's mission is to provide support and services to transitioning clients through an intentional network of community and faith based organizations in partnership with the criminal justice system. Transitioning clients are defined as: 1) individuals released from federal, state, or county prison who are re-entering Erie County after serving a sentence for a criminal conviction.
The primary goals of the ECRSSA are:
Services are divided into two levels: Intensive Case Management (ICM) and Resource Coordination (RC). ICM participants are transitioning clients who were residing in Erie County at the time of their offense, incarcerated/returning back to the county or have been out less than six months, and are identified as medium to high risk for recidivating. The ICM participant is offered case management support for 12¬18 months. Recidivism (those that have been reconvicted and returned to prison) is measured from this level of service. Those who do not meet the ICM level of service are eligible for Resource Coordination (RC). RC clients receive resources and referrals to services so they are still connected to necessary services. The RC participants are offered case management support for up to 90 days.
The ECRSSA serves as the resource component for the Group/Gun Violence Reduction Strategy (GVRS). The GVRS entails identification of individuals through a data driven process that are high risk for involvement in violent offenses as offender as well as victim. Once identified, a group of individuals are invited to hear a message, that message being one of consequences as well as hope and support for those high risk individuals. The ECRSSA manages the logistics of the GVRS meeting (otherwise referred to as a "Call In") and case managers are on site to immediately begin working with GVRS attendees following the presentation. The purpose is to connect those high risk individuals with supports and services to assist them in disengaging from a high risk lifestyle.
Our message to Call In invitees:
In 2013, Erie Together, the region's anti-poverty movement, in partnership with UnifiedErie, Erie's violence reduction effort, agreed that re-entry was a priority for not only overall community safety efforts, but also in the efforts to increased self-sufficiency among residents within Erie County. Erie Together took the lead on convening a group of stakeholders to explore the creation of a countywide re-entry strategy. The stakeholder group of cross sector representation met regularly over the course of three years to identify the challenges that re-entrants, now referred to as transitioning clients, were facing. They discussed action/milestones transitioning clients must generally achieve in order to be most successful. Local trends were reviewed, as well as national data. A variety of factors were considered including: unemployment, mental health, drug and alcohol, housing, transportation and others. The planning group concluded that the best strategy would be the creation of a "one stop shop" to deliver important services and connect transitioning clients to appropriate resources within the community. This "one stop shop" was the formation of the Erie County Re-Entry Services and Support Alliance (ECRSSA). With the support from a $1.2 million grant from The Erie Community Foundation and United Way of Erie County, the ECRSSA was launched in July 2016 under the umbrella of the Greater Erie Community Action Committee (GECAC).
The ECRSSA is a point of contact for any transitioning client returning to Erie from the federal, state or county correctional institutions. Additionally, the ECRSSA serves people reentering a law-abiding life from criminal networks or gun related violence.
Referrals to the program can be made by jail and prison staff or a parole agent for someone who will be coming back to our community soon. We also accept applications from people who have been out of jail or prison and need help finding a job or help getting connected to other support. Please go to Request More Info to request a referral form and one will be emailed to you.
For family or friends of someone who is incarcerated or struggling in the community who wants to know more about the program, please go to Request More Info for program contact information. We will reply to your email or answer your questions over the phone.
Re-Entry Services and Support Alliance Location:
Use entrance on 27 West 8th Street