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Flynn named to national task force aimed at reducing jail inmate recidivism


Mon, Mar 4th 2019 03:35 pm

The National Association of Counties (NACo) and the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) announced the formation of a joint task force to reduce jail inmate recidivism through continuity of health care services.

The National District Attorney’s Association (NDAA) was asked to select a member from among its ranks to sit on this task force to give a local prosecutors perspective. Chosen was Erie County District Attorney John Flynn. He will provide insight into the need for increased access to services for this nation’s veterans who often interact with the criminal justice system as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use issues or other co-occurring disorders.

The new task force brings together county officials, sheriffs, prosecutors, judges, public defenders and behavioral health partners to develop a coordinated response to the challenges faced by these individuals. Flynn is the only prosecutor on the task force. Co-chairs are Commissioner Nancy Sharpe of Arapahoe County, Colorado; and Sheriff Greg Champagne, St. Charles Parish, Louisiana.

A press release stated, “As these stakeholders know, federal policies often stand in the way of necessary treatment and other services to increase the likelihood that inmates will successfully transition back into society.”

Members of the new task force will explore the impacts of existing federal policies on recidivism and health outcomes of local jail inmates. A focus will be placed on those individuals suffering from mental health, substance use disorders and/or other chronic health illnesses.

The release also stated, “There is a growing reliance on our nation’s local jails to serve as ‘one-stop’ treatment centers for individuals suffering from mental health, substance abuse and/or other chronic health illnesses. Under current law, those who can afford bail keep their health care while those unable to pay – who are most susceptible to illness – face a gap in coverage. Research shows gaps in coverage lead to higher rates of recidivism resulting in over-incarceration.”

“I am honored to be chosen from among my colleagues nationwide to sit on this important task force,” Flynn said. “It is my hope that I will be able to help find a solution to an issue that has plagued the corrections system not only here in Erie County but around our country.”

The NACo-NSA task force will convene at least twice during spring/summer. The group will also have representatives from county judges, prosecutors, public defenders, health experts, veterans service officers and other county experts. The task force will also welcome participation and contributions from other governmental, corporate, academic and philanthropic partners.

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