Gov. Ralph DLG Torres has designated the week of April 25-29, 2022, as Re-entry Week, to emphasize the importance of helping formerly incarcerated individuals become productive members of society, while also reducing crime and recidivism.
In a proclamation signing last Thursday, April 21, Torres encouraged all CNMI citizens to recognize the impact that Reentry has on preparing people to live safe and productive lives after incarceration.
“By supporting people who are committed to rectifying their mistakes, redefining themselves, and making meaningful contributions to society, we help reduce recidivism and build safer communities,” he stated in the proclamation document..
The proclamation recognizes that nearly all incarcerated individuals will eventually leave prison or jail and return into the community and many of those with a criminal history often struggle to find stable housing, employment or education, regain voting rights, and pay for significant debt.
“These barriers can contribute to recidivism which increases victimization and decreases public safety. …Working with formerly incarcerated individuals to create opportunities for them to be productive members of society will benefit their families and our community in many ways, including improving safety and preventing and reducing crime.
In May 2019, the Substance Abuse, Addiction and Rehabilitation Program established the Offender Advocacy Program as a re-entry and reintegration program that aims to provide readiness for employment, assist and guide to avail of educational programs, provide resource support with homelessness, and access community linkage resources.
In 2021, the program helped four mothers avail of the Northern Marianas Housing Corp.’s Emergency Shelter program; two individuals that have served over 10 years in prison received services at the Offender Advocacy Program and are productive citizens today. In 2021, the Offender Advocacy program provided housing linkage services for seven individuals, 13 availed of Medicaid, 12 of the Nutritional Assistance Program, four secured jobs, two graduated from NMTI, and six earned their Adult Basic Education through the Northern Marianas College. (Saipan Tribune)