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Friday, October 12, 2007

Working to Reduce Recidivism at the Atlantic County Jail

More than 100 volunteers and staff from 35 local agencies will be honored for their efforts to help reduce recidivism among inmates discharged from the Atlantic County Justice Facility at a luncheon on October 15.

In response to a directive from County Executive Dennis Levinson, the county's Department of Public Safety implemented a discharge planning program in February 2005 to address the escalating number of repeat offenders. The program connects inmates with community-based agencies that provide resources to support their return to their families and their communities.

Since its initiation, more than 1,600 inmates have been assessed and have received a customized discharge plan that may include treatment for mental illness and drug addictions, disorders that often lead individuals to break the law. While the national average rate of recidivism remains 60 percent, the recidivism rate at the Atlantic County Gerard L. Gormley Justice Facility is approximately 25 percent.

"Our success at the Atlantic County jail is directly related to the contribution of the discharge planning professionals and volunteer staff," stated Levinson. "With their sustained support these citizens are far less likely to return to a life of crime. As a result, we all win."

Among the agencies that will be recognized on October 15 are: AtlantiCare Behavioral Health; Covenant House; Jewish Family Services; Career Opportunity Development, Inc.; Cape-Atlantic Intergroup for Alcoholics Anonymous; Joseph's House; Mental Health Association of Atlantic County; Institute for Human Development, Inc.; Atlantic County Women's Center; U.S. Veterans Administration; South Jersey AIDS Alliance; and Caesars Hotel Casino.

For more information, please contact John McLernon, Director, Social Services and Community Relations, at (609) 909-7546.

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