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Erie County Legislature to vote on conditional release program Thursday

The Erie County Legislature will vote at 2 p.m. Thursday on enabling legislation for the reinstatement of a local conditional release program.

A large gathering of community and religious leaders is expected to attend the session, after which VOICE-Buffalo is scheduled to hold a press conference on the front steps of the Old County Hall. VOICE-Buffalo has been working in partnership with members of the Legislature, the County Executive’s office, the Sheriff’s office and the John R. Oishei Foundation to re-establish the program, which existed between 1992 and 2005 before funding was cut during a budget crisis.

If reinstated, the conditional release program would provide up to 25 inmates who are currently serving sentences at the Alden Correctional Facility an opportunity to qualify for early release. In addition, they would be eligible for a number of wrap-around services, including housing, job training and placement, as well as mental health care and addiction treatment in return for one year of probation.

The program is part of VOICE-Buffalo’s larger Restorative Justice efforts to create comprehensive reentry programs aimed at reducing recidivism, along with addressing mental health issues that often lead some to incarceration.