ANN ARBOR – At their March 4th meeting, the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to ratify a $1,000,000 matching grant awarded to the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs Innovative Reentry Initiative.
Washtenaw County is one of only 15 communities in the United States awarded the grant through a highly competitive application process. The purpose of the grant is to provide state, local and Indian Tribes important resources and training to fill gaps in offender reentry systems. The county’s contribution of $1,000,000 will come from dollars already allocated through Public Safety and Mental Health millage proceeds as well from other in-kind contributions. The combined 2 million dollars will provide services over four years.
Commissioner Katie Scott, Chair of Ways and Means committee said, “I am thrilled that Washtenaw County and the Sheriff’s office will be integrating reentry programs and services and it speaks to our desire to see the county become a more equitable and just place to live for all people. I am proud of our Sherriff’s department for initiating programs like these and proud to be a part of the BOC that approves these actions.”
Working session chair, Commissioner Sue Shink appreciates this humanistic approach. “This grant will reduce not only crime, but also hardship, by responding to the very real needs of the people who are reentering society after a time in jail. I am grateful to our Sheriff’s office for working hard to meet people where they are and help them to find a better way than repeated incarceration.”
Dereck Jackson, Director of Community Engagement for the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office, shared that, “The Sheriff’s Office has been diligently working on a systemic approach to reentry and being one of only fifteen communities across the country to be awarded this grant speaks to the success of that work. It also speaks to our ability to leverage local millage dollars in order to bring in additional funds that may not have otherwise been available to our community.”
Fifty to sixty percent of offenders in Washtenaw County return to jail; one of the highest rates in the state of Michigan. As such, these grant and matching funds aim to help to build capacity and develop partnerships to provide recidivism reduction strategies, crime prevention, and public safety around the county. The grant provides vital resources to support “The Jail to Community” model adopted by the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office in 2016.