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Ely State Prison on September 28, 2019. (Joey Lovato/The Nevada Independent)

Legislators in a joint budget subcommittee on Thursday approved restoring full funding to the Going Home Prepared program, a successful recidivism reduction program that had its funding axed during the 2020 special session.

Restoration of program funding will cost about $228,000 annually for the program housed within the Division of Parole and Probation. Though lawmakers didn’t comment on the funding restoration during their Thursday meeting, leaders of the state parole division have previously touted the program as an extremely helpful tool in reducing recidivism.

“The initial premise was if we assist people in establishing residence, getting their foot into the community and provide a foothold for them to be more stable, we would position them for better long term success, but in the short run, it'd be less cost to the state because outside is cheaper than inside,” Parole and Probation Division head Thomas Lawson told lawmakers during an initial budget hearing in February.

The program, which was transferred to the parole division in 2017 from the Department of Corrections, is aimed at providing financial support for soon-to-be-released inmates who lack support from family sponsors or other resources as they transition back into society. Released inmates in the program aren’t handed a check — the money is instead paid directly to a service provider.

The division increased the maximum per-inmate support level from $500 to $1,000 in 2019, saying it allowed for more flexibility and access to more programs that could provide additional “wraparound services” for released inmates, as opposed to just paying for a week or two of housing.

“We found that if we measured out the dollars per day and incorporated analysis of the services provided rather than just the ‘roof and a cot’ methodology, then there was a lot more bang for the buck by increasing the amount per offender, more stabilizing circumstances,” Lawson told lawmakers in February.

Lawson said the program helped 336 parolees in the 2018 fiscal year, and 503 in the 2019 fiscal year, but the numbers have since dropped because of the decision by state lawmakers last year to slash all funding to the program as part of the $1.2 billion in cuts made during the special session to balance the state’s budget.

Lawson said the program had seen positive results — pointing to a 211-parolee sample conducted over a three month period following their release from incarceration. 

Parolees receiving benefits through the program had generally higher rates of employment (49 percent for those in the program after 30 days, versus 18 percent for those who were not enrolled) and lower rates of recidivism — about a quarter of program enrollees were arrested or absconded within 90 days of release, compared to 55 percent for those not enrolled.

Editor’s Note: This story first appeared in Behind the Bar, The Nevada Independent’s newsletter dedicated to comprehensive coverage of the 2021 Legislature. Sign up for the newsletter here.

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