Iowa is one of 22 states recently awarded a grant to advance a Prisoner Re-entry Initiative. The two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to the Iowa Department of Corrections (DOC) is worth just over $130,000.
Jerry Bartruff is the statewide re-entry coordinator for the Iowa DOC. His department partners with community organizations that work with prisoners returning to civilian life. "So by the time they’re granted a release, we’ve developed a transition plan that the offender will then implement once they walk out the door when the Board of Parole has granted them a release," Bartruff said.
The $130,000 Labor Department grant will be directed toward a Des Moines organization called Spectrum Resources. Bartruff says Spectrum’s focus is providing vocational training and connections to offenders, so they might have a job within a few days of being released from prison. The Iowa DOC has worked closely with Spectrum Resources for several years under another federal grant.
"That grant is still ongoing, so we don’t have long-term recidivism data, but staff in the communities that are working with these offenders that have gone through this Spectrum Resources Transition Planning…our reports are that these offenders are doing better than people who’ve not received the service," Bartruff said.
A similar prisoner re-entry initiative is underway in Iowa’s second judicial district, under a $450,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. The district covers much of north-central Iowa, including the cities of Ames, Boone, Fort Dodge, Mason City and Marshalltown.