Federal leader looks to Missouri as model for post-incarceration success

Missouri Department of Corrections website

About 96% of people incarcerated in Missouri eventually return home to our communities. More than 15,000 Missourians are released from state prisons each year. To help boost their chances of success, the Missouri Department of Corrections partners with fellow state agencies and community nonprofit organizations to build a network of support in areas such as behavioral health treatment; job training and employment; housing and transportation; family reunification and parenting; basic life skills; and countless other factors that affect risk and recidivism.

Pastor Tony Lowden, executive director of the Federal Interagency Council on Crime Prevention and Improving Reentry, is looking to Missouri as a national model for reentry success.

During the week of October 7-9, Lowden toured facilities and visiting with organizations that are reshaping the future for Missouri’s returning citizens. With stops in St. Louis, Cape Girardeau, Sikeston, and Poplar Bluff, Lowden will:

  • Tour the Transition Center of St. Louis, where men on probation and parole supervision complete a four-phase residential transitional model focused on programming and education;
  • Meet with a successful ASPIRE MO women’s prison entrepreneurship program graduate and the partners who assisted her transition from prison to the community;
  • Spend the day with the Missouri Bootheel Regional Consortium, a community-based network providing outreach, education, training, targeted interventions, and events to serve families in Southeast Missouri;
  • Visit the Poplar Bluff Community Supervision Center, where an Investing in Community Treatment Success (former Justice Reinvestment) program is underway;
  • Participate in a teleconference with Governor Mike Parson and leaders from agencies including the Department of Social Services, the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education;
  • Meet with dozens of community leaders to explore holistic wrap-around service delivery models based on client needs and collaborators’ capacity to successfully plan for reentry — an approach that increases investment in the community, client success and public safety.

President Donald Trump appointed Pastor John “Tony” Lowden executive director of the Federal Interagency Council on Crime Prevention and Improving Reentry in February 2020. A native of Philadelphia, Lowden is the pastor at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia — where President Jimmy Carter is a congregant and Sunday School teacher. Lowden has served as the director of the faith and justice initiative for the Georgia Governor’s Office of Transition Support and Reentry under former Gov. Nathan Deal and has served as a chaplain for the Secret Service in Southwest Georgia

The Federal Interagency Council on Crime Prevention and Improving Reentry

  • On December 21, 2018, President Donald Trump signed into law the First Step Act of 2018 (P.L. 115- 391). The Act enacted reforms to make the U.S. justice system fairer and help inmates successfully return to society. Included in the First Step Act is the Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2018 (Title V of the First Step Act), which reauthorizes many of the grant programs that were initially authorized by the Second Chance Act of 2007 (P.L. 110- 199).
  • Prior to the passage of the First Step Act, including the Second Chance Reauthorization Act, the President signed Executive Order 13826 in March 2018, which established the Federal Interagency Council on Crime Prevention and Improving Reentry. This Executive Order and the Council it created are part of the Administration’s broader emphasis and efforts to reduce crime, enhance public safety, and increase opportunities for incarcerated and previously incarcerated individuals.
  • As stated in the Executive Order, “The Federal Government must reduce crime, enhance public safety, and increase opportunity, thereby improving the lives of all Americans. … To further improve public safety, we should aim not only to prevent crime in the first place, but also to provide those who have engaged in criminal activity with greater opportunities to lead productive lives.”
  • The First Step Act legislation includes changes to policies, procedures, and funding. The Council is a way for the Federal Government to coordinate strategically its response to the Administration’s goals for criminal justice reform. The Council also harnesses considerable federal resources for issues that face youth and adults before they enter the criminal justice system, during incarceration, and upon reentry. Coordination at the federal level serves as an example and promotes additional coordination at the state and local levels, where sectors and partnerships are key in developing a comprehensive strategy.

Pastor Lowden’s Visit to Missouri

To inform the work of the Council and its member agencies, Pastor Lowden, Executive Director of the Federal Interagency Council on Crime Prevention, is visiting Missouri.

Pastor Lowden desires to:

  • learn more about the innovative ways communities are addressing crime prevention and reentry;
  • learn more about the challenges organizations face in providing services and that individuals face before, during, and after release;
  • Share information about federal resources; and
  • highlight partnerships at the federal, state, and local levels that are key to comprehensively and holistically address the needs of communities and individuals.

Department of Justice Funding for Reentry

  • On September 29, the DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs announced awards for 2020 totaling more than $92 million to reduce recidivism among adult and juvenile offenders returning to their communities after confinement.
  • Awards include funding under programs authorized by the Second Chance Act, which are designed to help communities develop and implement comprehensive and collaborative strategies to address the challenges posed by reentry and recidivism.
  • These funds support:
    • communities as they develop and implement strategies to address recidivism and reentry;
    • programs for detained juveniles and incarcerated parents with juvenile children; and
    • rigorous research to advance understanding about reoffending and the success of reentry strategies, programs, and practices.