PUEBLO, Colorado — Two out every three people released from American jails end up being arrested again within 3 years, according to the most recent federal data. Pueblo County is trying to break that trend.
The Jail Based Behavioral Services (JBBS) program of the Pueblo County Sheriff's office has been working with inmates since 2012 to alleviate common barriers they face after serving their sentences.
"Our recidivism rate for those that we serve is less than 10% of the people we work with go back into custody within a year," said program manager Marco Macaluso.
The most common barriers are often related to basic needs such as a safe place to live, reliable transportation, or a lack of proper identification.
"If they need an ID, we can print them a temporary jail ID that is approved through vital records and we will get that to them so they can get a birth certificate and in turn get a social security card," Macaluso explained. "We're trying to break these minimal barriers that often-times the incarcerated population faces."
The JBBS currently servers around 200 inmates each year. The program has focused its attention on helping inmates who struggle with substance abuse issues. However, they recently received a much larger grant from the Colorado Office of Behavioral Health which will allow them to expand their services to inmates who struggle with mental health needs.
"We're hoping that we can help them leave the jail in a different way than they came in, with a better chance of success."
Macaluso expects to double the number of people served. He's currently hiring five new case managers, a behavioral health clinician, and a pre-sentence coordinator.
The expanded staff will also help people being detained before their criminal case is adjudicated. A judge might hesitate to release someone on bond who doesn't have a place to live or way to get to court.
"We can provide them a letter documenting what is established for this person because of the program that they can take to that next court hearing and be able to show it to the judge," Macaluso said.
Those interested in applying visit http://county.pueblo.org/. The deadline to apply is Friday, July 10, 2020