In the News
Florida State University’s Center for the Study and Promotion of Communities, Families, and Children will tackle the issue of substance abuse in the criminal justice system for the final installment of its inaugural lecture series, “Engage, Invest, Respond.” FSU Social Work faculty member Tanya Renn will present, along with Michele Staton from the University of Kentucky Department of Behavioral Science.
The lecture is free and open to the public: March 29, 3pm, FSU Aero-Propulsion, Mechatronics and Energy Building, 2003 Levy Ave.
Kentucky is one of four states participating in the program, and Carrie Pettus-Davis, an associate professor at Florida State University, is leading the project. "Communities really haven't yet stepped up to take ownership of welcoming people back home, and making sure that there's the infrastructure in place to make people successful," she states. Pettus-Davis says many communities still expect corrections departments to solve re-entry and rehabilitation issues, although these institutions are not equipped to do so.
Principal researcher Carrie Pettus-Davis says research focusing on healthy thinking patterns, effective coping mechanisms and positive relationships among former prisoners will help Kentucky inmates get out and stay out. Even after this initial bout of research, Kentucky officials say they will continue to reenergize their research in hopes of helping more people. Gov. Bevin said that a declining prison population in Kentucky is evidence of the research’s influence.
Governor Matt Bevin and Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley today held a news conference with leaders from the national Safe Streets & Second Chances (S3C) project to discuss the initiative and other criminal justice-focused efforts in the Bluegrass State. “Our research is about identifying how organizations and communities can best support people in reaching their full potential after an incarceration experience, said Pettus-Davis. “Kentucky leaders have demonstrated that they are committed to research driven solutions by welcoming this study to their state. Our research team is examining individualized approaches to reentry and uncovering what works best, for who, and how. We are thrilled that the research findings can have a direct impact on policies and practices, and ultimately the well-being of individuals, families, and communities.”
More than 400 Kentucky inmates are participating in a re-entry program focusing on services both during and after incarceration. Gov. Matt Bevin was among those recognizing the Safe Streets and Second Chances project. Carrie Pettus-Davis, of Florida State University, said re-entry program specialists work with inmates.“They use assessment tools. They do individual counseling sessions. They do group counseling sessions. They act almost like community navigators for these individuals and they do it prior to release and then after the individuals get home."
This story was also picked up by the Richmond Register.
This morning the governor and a group of experts working on an initiative called ‘Safe Streets and Second Chances’ gave an update from the rotunda on a pilot program that is aimed at successfully integrating inmates back into their communities after being released. Governor Matt Bevin hopes that the new initiative will cut back on recidivism rates with five factors. “One, that they have meaningful work trajectories. Two, that they’re able to have healthy thinking patterns. That they can effectively cope is the third one. That they have positive interpersonal relationships with others and that they are fully participating in their community and have positive engagement,” said Carrie Pettus-Davis, the program’s principal researcher.
This past November, Pettus-Davis and her team published their first report from the study and plan to follow-up with three more, reporting in real time as they gather more data. Their hope is that by issuing their findings throughout the course of the study rather than waiting until the study is complete, their research can be applied faster. It typically takes 17 years for research to be implemented into policy and practice, says Pettus-Davis, which is far too long for those facing reentry today.
This brief describes how the Smart Decarceration Grand Challenge and the work of Dr. Pettus-Davis led to the First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill recently passed by both chambers and signed by the President.
"Experts hope that the broad and diverse coalition that has grown around criminal justice reform – from progressive civil rights groups to conservative religious and business groups – stays for the long haul."