Poloncarz should implement conditional release program
I was very excited to read in the May 1 News that the Erie County Legislature has approved the conditional release program. I have followed the progress of this initiative as it has been developed and promoted by VOICE Buffalo and its constituent churches and community organizations. It always seemed to me to make such good sense to offer the opportunity to nonviolent inmates to make a successful transition to life outside a correctional facility. And the more I learned about the extent of mental health and addiction issues prevalent among prisoners, the more it seemed appropriate to access those services wherever they are available in the larger community. It is also true that opportunities for education, training and job placement – all of which are critical to succeeding in the world outside prison – are much more widely available outside a prison setting.
The parish I belong to – Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Clarence – has supported this initiative, at one point hosting a large community meeting on this issue in our church. I feel that the conditional release program is a way of living out our faith in the real world by helping those who need support, resources and encouragement to put their lives in order and become productive members of the community.
I strongly encourage County Executive Mark Poloncarz to sign this measure into law so that this long-overdue reform initiative can be implemented in Erie County. I think the county will benefit from a much more effective reintegration of inmates into the community and economy.