REAP's Second Chance Re-Entry Program
Re-Entry Alliance Pensacola, Inc.
The mission of Re-Entry Alliance Pensacola, Inc. (REAP) is to improve the safety and quality of life in Northwest Florida by enabling individuals returning from incarceration to be self-sufficient, crime-free, productive citizens and neighbors. At the suggestion of Chief Judge M. Casey Rodgers, Federal District Court for the Northern District of Florida, REAP was formed to assist federal inmates returning to our local community. In 2012, an Inmate Mentoring Program was established primarily using local attorneys acting as mentors to inmates participating in the Federal Re-Entry Court Program. This group of volunteer mentors formally organized in July 2013 as REAP. Current projects include a federal court mentoring program; the REAP Community Garden whereby produce is donated to Pensacola United Methodist Community Ministries free food bank and lunch program; REAP re-entry referral service for returning inmates needing access to community services; and various other programs benefitting area correctional facilities’ re-entry efforts.
Drawing on three years’ experience resourcing and working with over 60 local re-entering federal ex-offenders, REAP’S project proposes to expand re-entry services to include both federal inmates and approximately 30 additional men, women and juveniles returning from years of state incarceration back home to Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties’ neighborhoods to live, work and play. Funds will be used to provide the basic resources of housing, food, medical and mental health care and transportation. Additionally, the project will fund tuition, course fees, and books for an ongoing Learn to Read program, which is started six months prior to release from prison, and is customized for each individual based on his/her individual reading and writing levels, and other coursework providing job readiness training. Finally, a living stipend will be provided for the first 30 days after release from incarceration. These resources are the first steps needed for them to be ready for job interviewing and stable employment, which is the key factor in reducing recidivism.
The funding of this project will expand current evidenced-based re-entry programs to a considerably larger group of returning ex-offenders, thereby increasing the ex-offenders’ rates of economic and social success and decreasing their rates of recidivism. After years of incarceration, and being away from the Pensacola area, the re-entering citizen is vulnerable to homelessness and “quick fixes” if he/she perceives himself/herself without help, without family or "law abiding" friends, and with nowhere to go. Through the funding of this project, REAP can partner with local community organizations to organize and manage a continuum of care that will result in bringing these citizens back into the community as law abiding, contributing neighbors. For more than three years, REAP has witnessed the positive impact the Federal Re-entry Court Program has had on returning inmates in gathering the necessary basic human resources, information, mentors, job training and stable employment to become a thriving, contributing taxpayer instead of a continuing burden on our over-stressed community service providers and our over-burdened taxpayers. REAP estimates that the cost per individual for this program is approximately $3,000 per year as compared to an estimated annual cost of incarceration of $43,000. With this investment per client, REAP believes that a 50% reduction in the rate of recidivism is possible. By partnering in this project, Alliance members will gain greater experience and confidence in organizing and managing similar programs in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties targeting other returning citizens with special needs like women, veterans, the mentally ill and the homeless.