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Re-entry Program for Federal Prisoners on Supervised Release Has Low Participation

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania is trying to beef up its Court-Assisted Re-entry Program (CARE), which is available to federal prisoners placed on supervised release after they serve their prison term. The program’s newest effort is called the Cooperatively Arranged Re-entry Services (CARES).

CARE began in 2009 under the direction of U.S. District Court Chief Judge Yvette Kane; it is designed to help moderate- to high-risk offenders make a successful integration into society.

The program involves four “phases” that can be completed in two years. Progression through the phases is outcome driven, and highly motivated participants complete the program quicker than others. Completion can result in a one-third reduction in the term of supervised release.

Casey Carrick, a heroin addict, received a federal prison sentence after he stole a car and robbed a bank. “My attitude coming out was, anything I could do to better my life, I was going to do,” said Carrick, 35.

He enrolled in CARE, which involves meeting regularly with a federal judge, prosecutor, public defender and probation officials who help him set and meet goals, transition back into the community and avoid reoffending.

His participation led him to receive assistance from CARES after it was created in the summer of 2015. CARES is a public/private partnership between the CARE program and ESSA Bank & Trust, Northampton Community College and Pyramid Healthcare, as well as other local, regional and national non-partisan business interests.

Through ESSA Bank & Trust, participants in CARES can receive money-management classes and loans of up to $15,000 for housing, transportation or education. Educational services are offered by Northampton Community College, while drug treatment is provided by Pyramid Healthcare. Almost two years after his release, Carrick received a $12,000 loan through the CARES program to attend barber school.

“I’m very pleased with the way the program is running with our service providers. I’m very concerned about the low numbers we have in the program, and we’re trying our best to figure out ways to improve that,” said Judge Thomas Vanaskie, who sits on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. “I don’t know what kind of publicity [about CARES] we have received in the federal prisons, and that’s what has to happen.”

Judge Vanaskie has proposed to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf a state-federal partnership to extend the program to state prisoners.

“It’s in everybody’s best interest to reduce recidivism as much as possible,” Vanaskie stated. “I know they screwed up, they’ve made bad mistakes, but a lot of them are decent folks.” 



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