Advisory coordinating committee calls for hub on W. Eagle Street in Buffalo to improve coordination of services, decrease further involvement in criminal justice system
The Erie County Department of Mental Health (ECDMH), in cooperation with the Erie County Sheriff’s Office and the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo’s Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable, has announced plans to establish an Erie County Reentry Resource Center in the offices of ECDMH’s Forensic Mental Health Services at 120 W. Eagle St., Buffalo. Anticipated to be completed later in 2019, the center will be next door to the Erie County Holding Center with other county agencies and community-based service providers nearby. It is intended to improve reentry success while reducing high rates of recidivism among individuals who have spent any amount of time in jail. The establishment of the new center is one of the recommendations developed by the reentry advisory coordinating committee (RACC), which is comprised of members of the Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable’s Reentry Coalition.
“This new center will function as a place for individuals to access programs and services to assist them as they reenter society after being in jail, for whatever length of time, and will help these individuals learn skills to prevent their returning to jail,” said Erie County Commissioner of Mental Health Michael Ranney. “Along with the other recommendations put forth by the committee, this center will be a starting point for individuals in need of services to decrease their further involvement in the criminal justice system.”
“This new space will further enhance Sheriff Howard’s ongoing efforts to provide quality transitional services to individuals being released from jail,” said Thomas Diina, superintendent of the sheriff’s office jail management division.
“We applaud Erie County’s implementation of the Reentry Resource Center together with more than 50 partners. The center will facilitate a much more integrated approach to delivery of reentry services resulting in positive life outcomes for reentering citizens,” said Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, president/CEO of Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. ““Together, we are committed to making Western New York a vibrant and inclusive region with opportunity for all.”
“This is an important step forward for one of the Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable’s key initiatives as we collaboratively work toward an expanded, more inclusive economy,” said the Hon. Rose Sconiers, retired New York State Supreme Court justice and chairwoman of the Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable. “By bringing committed and engaged partners to the table, including Erie County, we are creating solutions together, which bridge racial equity gaps and expand opportunity for growth in our region.”
The RACC’s recommendations are the product of two workgroups formed by the committee in 2018 and are a direct response to the findings of a federally funded study of the county’s reentry system. That study, conducted in 2017 by the Council of State Government’s Justice Center, examined the state of existing reentry services in Erie County to determine their adequacy, quality and ability to meet the needs of individuals returning from local, state and federal correctional systems, as well as individuals under community correctional supervision or who may have had prior criminal justice contact but currently need services. The report identified key strengths in Erie County’s reentry system, but also noted improvements needed to address weaknesses.
For more information on the Erie County Department of Mental Health, visit http://www2.erie.gov/mentalhealth/.