LOS ANGELES – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – The Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) today announced a partnership that will use volunteers from AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) at select OJP Weed and Seed sites to help develop programs for ex-offenders returning to their communities. This partnership will allow local sites to leverage public and private resources to provide housing, employment, life skills training and mentoring for children of ex-offenders, with the goal of reducing recidivism and crime.
Weed and Seed is a strategy employed in 330 sites nationwide and aims to prevent, control, and reduce violent crime, drug abuse, and gang activity in targeted high-crime neighborhoods, and to bring in services that promote crime prevention and neighborhood revitalization.
“This partnership is a perfect match because the VISTA volunteers will organize and mobilize community resources to support the neighborhood restoration goals of Weed and Seed sites,” said Regina B. Schofield, assistant attorney general for the Office of Justice Programs. “Preventing recidivism helps families and children and restores human dignity and respect for the law.”
The partnership establishes collaboration between the OJP’s Community Capacity Development Office (CCDO) and CNCS. VISTA volunteers will work with the Weed and Seed reentry efforts in the following cities: Oakland, Calif.; Washington, D.C.; Miami, Fla.; Chicago, Ill.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Cleveland, Ohio; Portland, Ore.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Providence, R.I.; Charleston, S.C. and Dallas, Texas.
VISTA volunteers, supported by CCDO, will build local networks and collaboratives
with faith-based and other groups to create local reentry initiatives; develop community volunteer programs to provide trained community volunteers for programs, such as the mentoring of ex-offenders and their families; and work with the criminal justice system and prisons in developing reentry programs.
More than 600,000 individuals are released from prison every year. In some communities, these ex-offenders will return to a life of crime and prison at a rate of 67 percent within the first three years of release. Crime committed during the first three years can be avoided if during this time the returning offender has the opportunity for successful reentry into the community and makes a commitment to responsible choices. A successful reentry includes addressing housing and employment needs, as well as critical social needs, such as reintegration into the family, conflict resolution skills, and addiction counseling and mentoring.
CCDO supports local sites through its Weed and Seed strategy, which includes four components: law enforcement; community policing; prevention, intervention and treatment for residents; and neighborhood restoration. Revitalization of communities depends on the economic development through the coordinated use of federal, state and local, and private sector resources. About 5.5 million persons live in 330 active Weed and Seed communities throughout the country.
The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP is headed by an Assistant Attorney General and comprises five component bureaus and two offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime, as well as the Office of the Police Corps and Law Enforcement Education and the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy and OJP’s American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk. More information can be found at www.ojp.usdoj.gov.