What is Returning Home Well?
“Returning Home Well” is a new public-private partnership that provides essential services — like housing, health care, treatment, transportation, direct assistance, and employment support — for Californians returning home from prison after July 1, 2020. These are individuals that have either met their natural release date or are being released on an expedited timeline due to COVID-19. The State announced an initial commitment of $15 million, which will be matched by philanthropic contributions for a total goal of $30 million.
Who are the partners?
The public-private partnership includes the State of California, philanthropic partners, and community service providers:
- State departments, including the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), and various departments within California Health and Human Services (CHHS) such as the Department of Social Services (DSS) and the Department of Healthcare services (DHCS).
- Service providers — Through the Amity Foundation, hundreds of organizations are coordinating efforts to provide direct services to people returning home. These include: like A New Way of Life, the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Center for Employment Opportunities, Homeboy Industries, HealthRIGHT 360, WestCare California, and more.
- Foundations and individual donors aligning funding for this effort include the Meadow Fund, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Rosenberg Foundation, The California Endowment, Heising-Simons Foundation, Future Justice Fund, Art for Justice Fund, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Open Society Foundations, The California Wellness Foundation, Ford Foundation, Agnes Gund, and Kaitlyn & Mike Krieger.
Where are we on the fundraising goal?
The Fund has raised over $26 million of its $30 million goal, and services are beginning to be provided to returning citizens.
Why does this partnership matter?
In recent months, COVID-19 cases have risen dramatically among California’s prison population. As in other confined spaces, risk of infection — among those incarcerated and prison staff — is extremely high. In response, the State of California has taken important, life-saving steps to expedite the release of over 5,000 individuals whose releases were expedited in July and August 2020 and on a rolling basis going forward. These releases are in addition to those who are being released as a result of meeting their natural release date. However, those returning are often left without essential services that make them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.
Recently, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation also projected that a large percentage of the individuals set to be released early will have the need for housing assistance and coordination of post-release services. Rates of homelessness among regular releases have also risen from a low of 13 percent last August to 15.5 percent in August 2020, making the need for reentry support — and especially housing– in the pandemic environment even more critical.
- According to the Prison Policy Initiative:
- Formerly incarcerated people are almost 10 times more likely to be homeless than the general public.
This new public-private partnership between several state departments, philanthropy, and frontline reentry services providers will ensure that individuals returning to their communities have the support they need for safe, healthy, successful reintegration into their communities.
What kinds of services will be provided?
Examples of services include: transportation home from prison, 14-day quarantine housing, emergency supportive housing, residential treatment, access to health care, employment services, direct assistance, and more.
How will the funding be allocated?
We have matched the percentage distributions of the State funding to each STOP services area in CA to ensure equally leveraged services for placement into residential treatment, reentry housing, outpatient services, and case management. We will adjust this if needed to ensure that service needs are being met and resources allocated appropriately.
How will people being released get connected to these services?
We are working with our placement coordinators in all regions of the State and have referral systems in place to ensure that probation and parole offices as well as community based organizations can connect men and women returning home to the appropriate services.
Are individuals receiving direct cash assistance?
In a parallel but connected effort, this April the Center for Employment Opportunity (CEO) launched the Returning Citizens Stimulus (RCS), a nation-wide, philanthropy-funded initiative that is disbursing up to $2,750 in cash assistance to more than 7,000 individuals recently released from incarceration. Of the $15 million contribution from philanthropy, a portion will go to leverage CEO’s pay card system to transfer three “stimulus” payments to individuals while also connecting them to essential reentry supports.
CEO is working with the Amity Foundation’s network of local service providers to distribute part of these resources to Californians returning home, especially those who will face greater challenges obtaining employment during the pandemic. State dollars are not supporting direct assistance efforts.
How much is the direct assistance?
While the overall amount in stipends is dependent on funds raised current thinking is that individuals will receive a total of $1,500 over 3 months and will be tied to meeting goals developed with the providers.
To whom will it be given and for how long?
Stipends will be targeted for those released after July 1, 2020 and will be provided until the funds have been expended, which we expect to happen in less than 6 months.
Will the stipends and/or services be geographically limited?
No. Stipends and services will be distributed based on need in partnership with service providers throughout the state.
Who is the State of California Releasing Due to COVID-19?
In July, CDCR announced an additional series of release actions in an effort to further decompress the population to maximize space for physical distancing, and isolation/quarantine efforts. These releases included approximately:
- 4,800 eligible people with 180-days or less to serve; and
- 700 eligible people who have less than one-year to serve who reside within identified institutions that house large populations of medically high-risk patients.
Additionally, CDCR issued 12 weeks of credit to incarcerated people who had no rules violations between March 1, 2020 and July 5, 2020, excluding those serving life without the possibility of parole or who are condemned.
In order to be eligible, individuals must not currently be serving time for domestic violence or a violent crime as defined by law, have no current or prior sentences that require them to register as a sex offender under Penal Code 290. Not have an assessment score that indicates a high risk for violence.
Please contact the CDCR for more information.
Will victims be notified?
Please contact the CDCR for this question.
What if someone is released and then commits another crime?
Almost all people in prison today will be released at some point, including this population who have a few weeks or up to a year left in their sentence. It’s critical that we reduce California’s prison population to allow for greater social distancing, and provide access to supportive reentry services that are proven to help people have a safe, successful transition home.
What support do people usually get when they leave prison?
Please contact the CDCR for this question.