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CENTER FOR COMMUNITY ALTERNATIVES ANNOUNCES THE LAUNCH OF PROJECT NEW OPPORTUNITY
Program Helps People Released from Federal Prison Meet the Challenges Confronting Them
WASHINGTON, DC., April 26, 2016 – Center for Community Alternatives, in conjunction with Open Society Foundations, today announces Project New Opportunity (PNO), to address the needs of people who are newly or soon to be released from federal prison due to the retroactive application of changes in sentencing guideline approved in 2014 by the United States Sentencing Commission, often referred to as “Drugs Minus Two.” Project New Opportunity takes a proactive, evidence-based approach toward improving the transition from prison to community for this important segment of the returning federal prison population.
Project New Opportunity complements the Bureau of Prison’s reentry efforts and Federal Probation’s supervision by connecting those returning from federal prison with family members, social supports, agencies and programs in their community in advance of their release. The program pairs Reentry Consultants with individuals whose sentences have been reduced, offering an individualized one-on-one approach which connects clients with vetted community services, known best practices and resources.
“The earlier return to freedom made possible for thousands by changes in federal sentencing guidelines should be an occasion of celebration. But there has been an overlay of reasonable concern about the obstacles and challenges that confront people who have been incarcerated for years, isolated from a changing world, separated from families and home communities by hundreds of miles, having to overcome barriers imposed by a criminal conviction, in an environment short on needed services,” says Malcolm Young, PNO’s founder and Project Director. “PNO is designed to help the person leaving prison prepare in advance for a return to community and to reach out to families, social supports and public and private organizations that are ready and able to help ease their transition. PNO’s goal is to help as many clients as possible leave prison with direction and a clear path forward toward the life they’ve imagined.” Malcolm C. Young, is an attorney, advocate and recognized expert in sentencing, sentencing and reentry programming, and criminal justice policy.
The Center for Community Alternatives (CCA), a national leader in the field of community-based and client-centered alternatives to incarceration, with more than three decades’ experience serving diverse populations in New York State, is now launching Project New Opportunity in their Washington, D.C. office. PNO received its initial funding from Open Society Foundations. CCA Executive Director, David Condliffe said, “CCA applauds the leadership of the Open Society Foundations in supporting those leaving federal prison. Organizations like CCA have worked for decades with state and local governments utilizing evidence-based practices to ensure the safe and productive return home of formerly incarcerated persons. As we work to end mass incarceration, governments at every level must pioneer practices that afford new opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals, their families and their communities.”
On Wednesday, April 27, the Open Society Foundations and the Center for Community Alternatives will host a reception marking PNO’s launch. The reception convenes from 4:00 pm – 6:30 pm EST at the offices of the Open Society Foundations, located at 1730 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, 7th Floor, Washington DC 20006.
About the Project Now Opportunity
Project New Opportunity will assist people released from federal prisons in advance of the duration of their original sentences, as the result of judicially-approved sentence modifications authorized when the United States Sentencing Commission revised federal sentencing guidelines for persons convicted of drug trafficking offenses. The number of prisoners whose sentences were affected is large: as of 25 March 2016 federal judges granted 26,850 or 70.2% of more than 38,242 motions filed for sentence modifications. (More than 6,300 of these motions were filed by prisoners who are not U. S. citizens and are likely to be deported.) Applying the revised guidelines, judges reduced sentences on average by 24 months, from just over 11½ years to just over 9½ years. Starting 1 November 2015 when some 6.000 federal prisoners were released (of whom 2,000 were non-citizens and presumably turned over to immigration authorities), thousands more have been released with more to be released in coming months and years.
A smaller but still potentially significant number of federal prisoners may also be released following reviews of thousands of clemency petitions submitted at the invitation of the Department of Justice and now under consideration by the President.