Monday, February 18, 2019
Text Size

Reentry Program

Mission Statement

The Reentry Program's mission is to enhance public safety by bringing together the public and private resources of Douglas County to help persons incarcerated sucessfully re-enter our community as accountable, contributing, self-sufficient and law-abiding citizens.


The concept of a Reentry Program evolved from Sheriff McGovern's request to the National Institute of Corrections Jail Center (NIC) to conduct a Justice System Assessment of the correctional facility and its operations along with reviewing local criminal justice system practices. The on-site technical assistance occurred in 2006. Recommendations included:

  • Linking inmates to community services upon release.
  • Improving data management systems.
  • Consider design and development of intermediate sanction options.

Upon completion of the assessment, a reentry committee community planning summit was held April 17th, 2006 that included local law enforcement agencies, community mental health and substance abuse treatment providers, residential housing intervention agencies, the University of Kansas' School of Social Welfare, and the 7th Judicial (Douglas County) District Court. A core steering committee emerged and met for approximately 1 1/2 years to review how NIC's recommendations, including identified barriers that face inmates upon release, may evolve into a locate inmate reentry program.

Reentry Program

The core mission of Reentry is to increase public safety within the community. In order to safely reenter the community, the reentry program:

  • Identifies and targets the high risk and needs of the inmate.
  • Incorporates existing programs & community services into a reentry plan.
  • Integrate evidence-based correctional practices with staff and inmates.
  • Sets goals and tasks for transition into the community.
  • Provides supportive case management services for 6 months post-release.

In 2008, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office was selected as one of two sites to pilot the National Institute of Corrections’ Transition from Jail to Community (TJC) initiative. TJC is a model that develops, implements and evaluates a systems-wide collaboration of partnerships across a wide-range of networks: From the jail to the community, through the criminal justice system, social service providers and intervention programs that affect the overall public safety of inmates transitioning from incarceration.

In 2010, the Sheriff’s Office was awarded two federal grants from the Bureau of Justice Assistance to implement post-release case management services. The Second Chance Act demonstration grant brought on two Reentry Case Managers to develop inmate transition plans while incarcerated that support their success upon release. Inmates sentenced to serve more than 30 days in the facility who are returning to Douglas County communities may be eligible for reentry services. The reentry program relies heavily on the facility’s established Programs and Volunteers division to target programming directly to the identified risks and needs of the inmate while incarcerated. A reentry plan focusing on a continuum of services is then developed with the inmate to reduce the transitional gaps that occur upon release. Upon release, the inmate participant meets with the Reentry Case Manager in Reentry’s United Way office space, located directly on a public bus route and houses numerous social service providers on-site when such wraparound services may be needed for post-release case management.  The case managers provide supportive case management services with the inmate participant in the community up to 180 days after their release, working on the following goals:

  • Reduce reoffending.
  • Reduce substance abuse.
  • Reduce homelessness.
  • Improve health.
  • Increase employment.
  • Increase family connections in the community.

Participants are able to access and meet with their case managers for support while working on their high risk behaviors which often lead to reoffending.  They are given incentive vouchers for encouragement to meet with their case managers and as a positive reward when they have accomplished a major goal.  Also, there is room at the United Way to continue programming out of the Correctional Facility into the community. 

In partnership with the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration grant established the AIMS program to Assess, Intervene and Mobilize incarcerated persons with mental illness to Succeed in the community. An AIMS case manager was hired to implement congruent corrections, transitional and reentry support services for mentally ill or co-occurring mental health and substance abuse inmates, pre- and post-release. The AIMS case manager (1) conducts a specific assessment that occurs at arrest or upon self or staff referral; (2) identifies the appropriate interventions to be delivered throughout their incarceration; (3) develops a transition plan for the continuation of mental health, substance abuse and ancillary services post-release; and (4) provides supportive case management services in the community upon post-release.

Both grants included collaboration with the University of Kansas’ School of Social Welfare to evaluate Reentry’s performance measurements related to its goals.

In February of 2013, Dr. Kiristin Bechtel was contracted to complete the Correctional Program Checklist, a nationally accredited tool for assessing program effectiveness.  A copy of the Executive Summary can be obtained here.

Spring of 2015, as part of the National Association of Counties Stepping Up Initiative, Sheriff McGovern brought community and county leadership together to assess the need for resources to divert individuals with serious mental illness from the DCCF and into mental health services when appropriate.  The Sheriff’s Office, Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center and the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare applied for an expansion grant under the Justice Mental Health Collaboration Program to target individuals with serious mental illness (SMI), women and veterans.  The proposed Assess-Identify-Divert (AID) project focuses on reducing the population of persons with SMIs and co-occurring disorders, with special focus on female detainees through implementation of screening tools for; mental health, substance abuse, trauma, criminogenic risk and likelihood of failure to appear.  Participants in the program will received intensive case management in the facility and community.  Multiple community partners have agreed to support this project.  The project began October 1, 2015 and will be piloted for 24 months. Click here for a presentation of the AID Project.

Reentry is also actively engaged in community interests, including participation on the Douglas County Community Corrections Advisory Board, the City’s Homeless Information Advisory Committee, and the community’s Domestic Violence Coordinated Justice Response Team, along with presenting correctional facility programming information to numerous civic and service organizations in the community.

Click here for Reentry Newsletters. 

Click here for Lawrence-Douglas County Emergency Resource information for help with food, housing, behavioral health and other community resources.

For questions please contact the Reentry Director.

Sheriff Ken McGovern