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Mayor proposes new office to assist individuals re-entering society


Mayor Martin J. Walsh proposed an Office of Returning Citizens within the City of Boston to support the 3,000 individuals who return to Boston after being released from state, federal, and county facilities each year, as well as others who were previously incarcerated.

“In order to create stronger, safer communities, we must work together to give all of our residents the opportunity to reach their full potential,” said Walsh. “By giving individuals a second chance to obtain affordable housing, steady jobs, and support with family and community reunification, we can improve our re-entry outcomes, stem some of the violence on our streets and create stronger and healthier neighborhoods. I thank Sheriff Tompkins for his partnership on this important initiative.”

The proposal, part of the Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) Budget re-submission to the City Council, will repurpose savings to make a $300,000 investment to help individuals who have taken healthy steps and prepared themselves to move past the consequences of their past actions and coordinate the great work done by our social service and law enforce partners.

This newly formed office will incorporate best practices from local, state and federal partners and include a review of similar offices in Washington DC and Philadelphia.

“At the Sheriff’s Department we consistently talk about the need for a continuum of care as folks cycle out of my facilities, and, from day one of his administration, Mayor Walsh has been a committed partner in working with us to achieve that objective,” said Sheriff Tompkins. “The creation of an office for reentry is exciting news and I applaud the mayor’s commitment to helping improve the lives of those in need.”

According to The Boston Reentry Study from Harvard University, individuals reentering society need assistance accessing resources to help them find permanent housing and employment. The new Office of Returning Citizens aims to empower men and women reintegrating into their communities to reach full potential as individuals, family members and citizens of Boston.

Walsh created the Office of Public Safety in 2014 with the mandate of establishing cross-agency and cabinet coordination to tackle the challenging and complex problems in our neighborhoods that lead to and perpetuate violence. Part of the work of the office has included looking at services and opportunities available for individuals that are returning home. The new office will help fill gaps that exist within local, state, federal and county efforts.

Last year, the mayor announced the expansion of Boston’s successful reentry program, Operation Exit, to include opportunities in the technology industry through a partnership with Resilient Coders.

Operation Exit was established by Walsh in 2014 to help at-risk residents, or those with a criminal background, by providing the knowledge and skills required for entry into an apprenticeship program. Through career readiness and occupational skills training, the intensive training program provides hands-on learning experiences with peer-to-peer mentorship to prepare participants for good careers.

The City of Boston is also engaged in President Obama’s national initiative, My Brother’s Keeper, which seeks to actively engage the community to promote positive outcomes for all youth, especially Black and Latino boys and young men. In September 2014, Walsh established the MBK Boston Advisory Committee and in May 2015, released “Opportunity * Access * Equity: MBK Boston Recommendations for Action,” a collaborative action plan to increase pathways to opportunities.