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In The Media

December 18, 2020

WNY Reentry Program Expanding Into Preventative Services

Erie County, NY—   Thanks to a $258,800 investment from Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, leading reentry service provider Peaceprints of WNY will be evolving one of their most successful programs, Project Blue, in January 2021. Developed and implemented in collaboration with the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, Project Blue currently pairs individuals held in the local jail with a Peaceprints case manager to ease the transition back into the community and mitigate the risk of reincarceration. This new phase of the program will allow Peaceprints to offer similar case management to individuals prior to sentencing or incarceration.

“Project Blue provides individuals with support to meet their needs and goals in an effort to keep them out of the criminal justice system. I hope that extending these services to people charged with low-level offenses will bring a positive change into their lives and will deter them from committing crimes in the future. I applaud Peaceprints for being proactive in reducing recidivism and thank them for working with my office to bring this program to our courts,” said Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn.

Since the program’s inception two years ago, New York State has experienced sweeping bail reform that limits the number of individuals held in jail. While the reform measures have made meaningful steps in improving equity among those being held in incarceration, it has made it harder to recruit for Project Blue. “When we were awarded federal Second Chance Act funding to launch Project Blue, the state had not undergone bail reform” explained Cindi McEachon, Executive Director of Peaceprints of WNY. “Our current contract requires that we recruit participants from jail, but since April, the number of individuals held in jail has decreased drastically. We knew the program worked, and we wanted to expand capacity, but we couldn’t do so under our current contract”. The funding from Mother Cabrini Health Foundation will allow Project Blue to continue jail-based programming for over 150 individuals each year while serving an additional 100 individuals with court appearance tickets.

In order to meet the increased case load, Peaceprints will be hiring two team members in the role of Community Coordinator to provide intensive case management as well as one Court Advocate who will attend court hearings with the client and liaise with the client’s attorney. Given that graduates of Project Blue re-offend at a rate 60% lower than the national average and 75% lower than the county average, participation in the program is expected to continue to decrease recidivism and incarceration in Western New York. The program includes evidenced based programming such as Ready, Set, Work!, cognitive behavior therapy, wraparound services, mentoring, housing coordination, comprehensive educational and employment services, and access to healthcare services.