This blog is maintained by the New Mexico Corrections Department Public Affairs Director. The purpose of this blog is to showcase what is happening at NMCD in both the Adult Prisons Division and Probation and Parole.
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Monday, February 1, 2016
Release Eligible Inmates
ELIGIBLE INMATES (REI’S)
DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS
2016 Legislative Session has arrived. This is one in a series of posts from the
staff of the New Mexico Corrections Department. We intend to send a daily
update to all our legislators with key points, facts, figures, personal stories
describing life here at NMCD.
“rei” stand for?
REI stands for Release Eligible Inmate.
makes an inmate eligible for release?
An inmate who has completed all of his or her basic sentence,
including concurrent and consecutive, and who is serving his or her parole term
in prison, but who can be released immediately with an approved parole plan and
rei’s are there within our prisons?
The REI count within our prisons, having reached a high point of over 300 at the start of
this administration, dropped to approximately 200 in last fiscal year. Since
the beginning of this fiscal year, that number has dropped even more
pronouncedly to approximately 150. This is a 50% decrease overall. To achieve
these results, we have remained hyper focused on this issue.
an inmate who is eligible for release still be in a facility?
Anyone eligible for parole must a) be willing to participate in
their own parole planning, and b) meet criteria established by their parole
plan. By law, the Parole Board must approve the offender’s parole plan before they can release to
Some REI’s are
considered “hard-to-place”. There are dynamic and extraordinary difficulties
associated with paroling “hard-to-place” offenders. Whether the challenges
involve the lack of a real home for an offender to parole to, a lack of
meaningful family or other social support, mental illness, insufficient
community correctional programming and/or mental health services, or the sheer
nature of the offender’s past
crimes as they relate to his/her risk and needs, the challenges, obstacles, and
drivers are diverse and complex. An individual, even though they may be
eligible for parole, may still be in a prison facility because of one or more
of these factors.
WHAT IS NMCD DOING TO ADDRESS THIS ISSUE?
Despite the many obstacles, coupled with the exceptional
challenges that come with underfunding for the last three fiscal years, we
remain proud of our renewed public safety centeredness and accomplishments. We
have implemented a monthly video conference call with all prison facilities,
our probation and parole regions, and the Parole Board. Together we have been
able to address problem parole planning and create greater internal
accountability for the submission of viable parole plans for the inmates. Additionally,
we have implemented an audit tool to address late actions for parole planning.
Specifically, our internal audit manager tracks and assesses penalties for
contractual non-compliance for our private prison facilities in five
contractual categories; one of which is late releases when the facility causes
such. Accordingly, financial penalties are assessed for such contractual
deficiencies on a monthly basis.
TRUE THAT SOME REI’S CAN’T BE RELEASED BECAUSE THERE AREN’T ENOUGH TRANSITIONAL LIVING FACILITIES?
parolees are required to have an address or a home to parole to. Some parolees
may not have family to parole to, and may seek to parole to a transitional
living residence in lieu of family. Others may have court ordered programming
or treatment to fulfill. Currently, NMCD has contracts in place for
transitional living. NMCD has direct service contracts for in-patient,
transitional and treatment services to include 116
inpatient beds for men, 16 exclusively dual diagnosis
inpatient beds for women, all of which offer dual diagnosis
sex offender transitional beds
transitional living beds for men
transitional living beds for women with another 8 beds scheduled to open in
spring in Los Lunas (total 30 beds when completely open)
step-down approach from incarceration to community is part of NMCD continuum of
care with EBP based on needs
also works in collaboration with non-contract community partners across the
state with availability of over 50 beds to include
House, Oxford House, Hoffman House, House of Hope, Veterans Administration,
Gifts, New Vision and other faith-based providers
The wait list for sex offender transitional living is typically
about 65 people.
To address the lack of community corrections infrastructure, we
have expanded contracts with current transitional living providers to increase
the number of available beds for REI’s. In doing so, we have felt it more appropriate to re-prioritize
available funding and resources before requesting a funding expansion. For
example, while NMCD was contracted with Optum/The Collaborative to monitor our
behavioral health contracts, we have historically paid the administrative fees
of the following amounts: SFY13 $191,994, SFY14 $429,331, SFY15 $641,241. The
administrative fees covered services such as contract monitoring. In opting out
of The Collaborative and returning to a direct services approach, we have been
able to eliminate the aforementioned administrative costs and redirect those
monies toward more meaningful use. To assure quality contract monitoring, we
hired and exclusively dedicated an internal contract monitor to ensure that
service quality remains high. Through redirection of funds that previously
failed to yield meaningful service outcomes, we have been able to increase
transitional living beds by approximately 50 new beds.
NMCD has also been able to contract with new vendors, both
transitional living providers, as well as outpatient behavioral health
providers, which has provided many new service opportunities for those
offenders returning to our neighborhoods on parole. Specific examples include:
a new women’s transitional
living contract in Bernalillo County, the renovation and repurposing of a
building in Valencia County, which will serve a similar purpose, increased
transitional living for men and women in Albuquerque, expansion at the Men’s Recovery academy to inpatient
services to dual-diagnoses offenders, and a wide array of new contracts with
counseling agencies across nearly the entire state.
inmates are eligible for geriatric or medical parole?
Today there are approximately 145 inmates over the age of 65 in
our state. In order for such an inmate to be eligible for geriatric or medical
parole, they must have their application approved by the Parole Board and meet
certain medical criteria deeming them to be chronically ill. Inmates are
responsible for initiating that application. This quarter, NMCD has changed
internal policy to streamline the notification process to inmates who have
either reached the age of 65, or who have been transferred to the geriatric or
long term care unit, that they may be eligible for geriatric or medical parole.
WHY ISN’T THERE A BUDGET line item
REQUEST FOR REI’S?
The issue of REI’s
is essentially a compelling component of our overall public safety mission.
Accordingly, because it is our mission to redress the long-standing
shortcomings of our systems of education, economy, and justice within the span
of a single prison sentence, our entire budget request and every expansion we
seek make up requests to address the issue of REIs. That’s because the successful re-entry of
former offenders to our mainstream communities is what defines our purpose as
an organization. Simply put, it is not in the interest of public safety for
offenders to return straight to our neighborhoods from prison without
meaningful transition and supervision. As examples of this point relating to
our FY17 request, you may note that we have again made a capital expansion
request (also requested but not funded in FY16) for a new offender management
system (OMS) to better track offender risk, needs, and individualized offender
programming. Not only would this funding ensure more timely parole packet
preparation and release of inmates, but also result in a better candidate for ultimate parole
So rather than
create a new line time for REI’s, we have requested to simply be funded to the
independent projections of the New Mexico Sentencing Commission (NMSC), which
would mean that we could sufficiently transition our female inmates back to
public facilities. There, gender-specific and more vigorous programming could
occur to better prepare female offenders for ultimate parole approval.
Moreover, should we receive funding appropriate to the NMSC’s projections, our efforts to reform the
overuse of segregation as a prison management tool could grow proportional to
our ability to implement more vigorous evidence-based programming for our more
difficult offender typologies, who will also become parole eligible at some
point. These programs include the expansion of special management housing for
gang members and sexual offenders. These specialized housing and programming
environments not only opens the doors of our segregation units while
simultaneously elevating the ultimate candidacy of these inmates for parole,
but also result in better informed decisions and outcomes for the Parole Board.
Because our work in this area requires meaningful coordination of
a range of functions, spanning from individualized risk/needs assessment and
complimentary programming to the availability of community based transitional
programming and treatment options, we hope that you better understand how
difficult it would be to define this issue within a single budget line request.
CONTACT: LUCY RIVER, POLICY & LEGISLATIVE OUTREACH