By George Kevin Jordan, AFRO Staff Writer
The READY Center, the District’s touchstone for returning citizens to access necessary resources in the city, is widening it’s circle to help returning citizens from the Federal Bureau of Prisons as well, officials announced this week.
“The READY Center is about being more intentional in how we set our returning citizens and their families up for success,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. “In expanding access to the READY Center to returning citizens from the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), we can reduce barriers and provide more residents with the meaningful second chance they need to live healthy, happy lives in our community.”
The READY Center slated to offer assistance and resources to returning citizens from the Federal Bureau of Prisons. (Courtesy Photo)
The READY Center is a collaboration between the Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizen Affairs (MORCA), Department of Corrections (DOC), Department of Behavioral Health (DBH), Department of Human Services (DHS), Department of Employment Services (DOES), Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and community-based organizations. All partners work collectively to ensure successful reintegration into the community for returning citizens.
Located at 1901 E Street S.E., the facility, which opened in February, had been working to help returning citizens navigate through the sometimes overwhelming transition that happens after citizens come back.
The way the system works now, inmates fill out an interest card to establish their post-release needs within 30 days prior to their release. Upon release, returning citizens engage in a one- time visit where they are connected to different services and agencies they may need.
Beginning Monday April 29, the READY Center will also service the BOP population on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Prior returning citizens from BOP would have access to services by D.C. government, but like the services for returning citizens from DOC, the READY Center, makes a plethora of resources accessible under one roof.
“It has been a priority of the mayor to bring together all the resources of the government agencies throughout the city that provide services to this population,” said Director of MORCA Brian Ferguson, told the AFRO when first discussing the READY Center in February. “We have seen that making sure that people are getting their needs addressed not only when they come out, but even prior to their release, dramatically reduces the chance that they will find themselves with a lack of resources and ensures we do all we can to make sure D.C. recidivism rates are as low as possible.”
According to a study done by the National Institute of Justice which tracked 404,638 prisoners in 30 states after their release in 2005, within three years of release, about two-thirds (67.8 percent) of released prisoners were rearrested. Within five years of release, about three-quarters (76.6 percent) of released prisoners were rearrested. Of those prisoners who were rearrested, more than half (56.7 percent) were arrested by the end of the first year.
Annually, between 1,800 ad 2,200 people are released from BOP to the District. For more information about the READY Center please visit: https://mayor.dc.gov, or MORCA site at https://orca.dc.gov/page/commission-re-entry-and-returning-citizen-affairs.