Sedgwick County and GEO Reentry Services, the operator of an innovative program for probationers, hosted an open house for local criminal justice officials and the media this week to highlight the program’s services, capabilities and results, and what GEO Reentry DRC staff and the local community heard loud and clear is that the county would like to keep the DRC in place, providing vital services for offenders receiving its reentry services.
The Sedgwick County DRC opened in 2006 to help alleviate jail crowding and tackle chronic recidivism with certain offender groups. It was one of the first programs that counties implemented nationwide to help deal with jail crowding through community alternatives that include evidence-based treatment and training. About 75 individuals go to the center to receive a mix of services, including intensive case management, cognitive-behavioral treatment, employment counseling and other training to help break the cycle of recidivism—and they receive these services for about half the cost of a day in jail. Even more importantly, the program was designed to curb costly recidivism that was clogging local courts and the jail system.
Now, facing a $27 million county budget deficit, funding for the DRC is in jeopardy. Both city and county officials are working to find funding to keep the program operating after the current contract expires next year.
“The program helped me turn my life around,” said one individual who was on hand to share his experience with officials about his time in the program.
The DRC has proven more effective than traditional probation in reducing recidivism. As of 2013, arrest data shows a 60 percent reduction in arrests among program graduates when comparing a two-year period prior to program graduation and two years after. Additionally, 48 percent of graduates have no arrests two years after program completion. The daily cost of the DRC is much less than the cost of a day in jail.
The Sedgwick County DRC manages probationers and probation violators, sentenced offenders who are serving out the remainder of their sentences in the community and pretrial defendants. The Sedgwick County DRC is open six days a week.
Local TV station KSN was on hand to tour the facility and report on the current situation. Click here to view the report.