Council of state governments releases reentry planning checklist for correctional facilities

Council of state governments releases reentry planning checklist for correctional facilities

The Council of State Governments recently released a checklist to guide reentry planning during the COVID-19 outbreak, as many communities work to reduce their correctional populations so that staff and incarcerated individuals have adequate room to practice social distancing.

The 21-question “Checklist for Correctional Facilities”, published this month on the CSG’s Justice Center website, was designed to help jails and prisons keep track of the steps of the reentry process, ensuring that both facility employees and non-violent inmates being released to the community stay safe. This means safe from COVID-19, but also having access to essential resources, such as food, shelter, mental health and substance abuse treatment, so they can live in the community with a lower risk of recidivism.

The CSG is a region-based forum that was founded to foster the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy, and the CSG Justice Center develops research-driven strategies to increase public safety and strengthen communities.

The CSG checklist, which was also developed in part by the National Sheriff’s Association, is accompanied by corresponding guidelines to aid staff as they follow each step of the discharge process. Questions cover basic preventative considerations for COVID-19: if the incarcerated person in question has been screened for symptoms, if the facility can test them, if quarantine is possible or required and if PPE will be available upon release.

The next group of questions covers legal discharge considerations, including court-ordered reporting procedures, if the individual’s probation or parole officer has their contact information, and if he or she has a government-issued ID. Questions then turn to reentrants’ basic needs: if the individual has access to a phone, safe lodging and food, and if they have transportation arrangements upon release.

The last questions concern incarcerated individuals’ health and treatment needs, including if they have mental health needs, are a suicide risk, have a substance use disorder, are in withdrawal from drugs or alcohol are required to take prescription medication and have medical coverage.

Importantly, the CSG’s Justice Center guidelines note that aside from the checklist, correctional facilities should continue to monitor and defer to the most recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and to coordinate with community partners, including the courts, the probation department and service providers.

View the CSG’s “Checklist for Correctional Facilities.”

GEO Reentry Services recently developed its own checklist of service continuity, part of the company’s efforts to seamlessly continue reentry services for its government partners, by customizing and modifying current programming to allow for remote learning, case management and engagement in the reentry process. In this way, staff has been able to offer program participants continuous and uninterrupted service and treatment through telephone calls, group tele-conferencing and online platforms.