Office of Justice Programs (OJP)

Multnomah County Re-entry Enhancement Coordination (REC) Program

BJA Program(s): Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program
State(s): OR

Grantee Agency: See below

Grant Amount/Year(s): FY 2009/$1,058,000

About the Program:

The Multnomah County Re-entry Enhancement Coordination (REC) Program seeks to break the cycle of addiction, recidivism and victimization. The Multnomah REC program is a Byrne JAG funded reentry initiative that uses evidence-based practices to treat addiction, reduce recidivism and save taxpayers money.

The program is funded with Byrne JAG seed money from the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) and run by the Multnomah Department of Community Justice (DCJ). The program uses proven evidence-based approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy and the Dr. Harvey B. Milkman and Dr. Kenneth W. Wanberg model for substance abuse treatment.

The Multnomah REC program is a specialized reentry initiative for high-risk individuals with co-occurring and substance abuse disorders. Unlike many reentry programs, REC focuses its resources specifically on those individuals who are most likely to recidivate as determined by a validated risk assessment tool. The Multnomah REC program was designed to close gaps in services provided to those transitioning from prison to the community. The initiative targets individuals awaiting release who have sought treatment while incarcerated and finds ways to help them continue their treatment and succeed through a comprehensive package of wrap-around services including: housing, substance abuse treatment, vocational rehabilitation, peer-to-peer mentoring, and more.

Another unique element of the REC program is "institutional reach in." This practice dictates that REC staff connect with inmates before they are released and work to establish ongoing relationships with potential clients. This "institutional reach in" culminates during reentry/discharge planning and during the initial weeks after their release from a correctional facility. The Multnomah REC program provides services and supervision for an average of 80 individuals at any given time and is a great example of both cost sharing and public-private partnerships. The core of this multi-disciplinary REC team is composed of two full-time probation/parole officers whose salaries are paid by the state, three substance abuse/mental health practitioners and five ex-offender mentors, who work closely with REC clients on a daily basis. The substance abuse/mental health practitioners, ex-offender mentors, vocational rehabilitation, and transitional housing are provided through partnerships with nonprofits which are funded through a combination of local county funds and state Byrne JAG funds. During the 90-120 day outpatient program, each REC participant is offered a variety of services specially designed to fit their particular needs and risk factors.

Program Successes/Effect on the Community:

Using the in-house expertise of Oregon’s Statistical Analysis Center and funds from multiple Byrne JAG grants, the CJC conducted a preliminary two-year evaluation of not only the Multnomah County REC program but three other reentry programs throughout the state as well. The programs were evaluated on outcomes and cost-effectiveness. The report, Offender Reentry Programs: Preliminary Evaluation, was released in July 2011.

The evaluation of the four offender reentry programs found that together, the programs generated a 33 percent decrease in all new felony and misdemeanor arrests when compared to similar offenders matched on risk. When broken down, the programs decreased the property crime arrest rate by 38 percent. When looking at individuals receiving new charges, the programs showed a 27 percent drop for all charges collectively and when divided by type of charge, there was a 41 percent drop in misdemeanor charges and a 33 percent drop in felony charges.

Going beyond outcome measures, the study also noted that the program was cost-effective with each dollar invested in these offender reentry programs generating $6.73 in benefits such as avoided criminal justice costs to taxpayers and reduced victimization costs. Program staff at the Multnomah REC report that 70 percent of their participants are out of government/intermediary housing within 90 days after release, further saving the system and opening up beds in halfway homes and other transitional housing programs. During the REC’s most recent quarter, 84 percent of participants attained employment within 90 days after release from prison.

Due to the success of Oregon’s reentry initiatives, the CJC plans to release another competitive grant very similar to the one that authorized the Multnomah REC and the three other reentry initiatives funded with the 2009-2011 solicitation. The Department of Community Justice plans to submit an application for this solicitation and, if selected, will receive an additional two years of Byrne JAG funding. Due to the great success of the peer-to-peer mentoring elements of REC and in response to the literature indicating the importance of positive peer groups, DCJ would like to expand the mentoring program to include a formal alumni network that will be called upon to provide clients with a pro-social peer group that will help guide offenders through their treatment.

BJA recognizes the critical importance of effective partnerships between State Administering Agencies and local agencies in using JAG funding to support data-driven and evidence-based programs and practices that improve criminal justice outcomes at the local level. The CJC plans to build on the success of the initial program through expansion efforts that can lead to greater level of positive impact in this high risk offender population in Multnomah.

*Please note that the above summary was adapted from the August 2011 edition of the NCJA Justice Bulletin.

Learn More:
To learn more about the program, please contact:
Devarshi Bajpai
Grant Program Manager
Email: devarshi.bajpai@state.or.us
Phone: 503-378-4848

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