A recently-launched county-run website aims to provide enhanced access to resources and support for people reentering the community from prison.
The Bucks County Reentry Coalition believes that “good reentry is good for everyone,” Michael Harrison, coalition chair and deputy chief of the Bucks County Adult Probation and Parole Department, told the county commissioners at their meeting on Wednesday.
“When reentry is successful, there’s less crime, there’s less victimization and our community is a better place,” he said. “We found that by treating everyone with dignity and respect – like a human being and giving folks opportunities to be successful – people respond positively to that.”
The coalition, made up of more than 50 government, community, faith-based, education and employment agencies, collaborated to create BucksReentry.com, which is available to individuals, family members and professionals.
Harrison said the website was designed to be a “one-stop-shop for reentry services in the county” with links to resources, such as mental health services, drug and alcohol information, housing information, criminal record help, job opportunities and more.
After working together for more than a year, the coalition launched its website earlier this summer with plans to eventually expand the services to electronic tablets directly used by incarcerated people.
David Kratz, newly appointed director of corrections for Bucks County and co-chair of the coalition, said the Department of Corrections is working on a safe link so offenders can have access to the site within the prison.
“Returning offenders to the community with resources and support has a positive effect on the communities, the prison system and, most importantly, the offender,” said Kratz.
Of the thousands of people imprisoned in Bucks County every year, a majority eventually will be re-incarcerated for committing a new crime or violating parole. The coalition’s goal is to “slow the revolving door,” said Harrison. The belief “that people are capable of positive behavior change” is central to the coalition’s efforts.