Baker News March 22, 2019

Policy Challenge Finalist Spotlight: R2DC

by Jose Altamirano

A Method to Facilitate Strategic Re-Entry for Returning Citizens

People from D.C. who are incarcerated face a unique problem. Their incarceration and release are managed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, instead of a state entity. This state of affairs means that D.C. residents who are sentenced to time in prison are often sent to facilities across the country, far away from their families. This makes it difficult for D.C. agencies like the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) and the Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizens Affairs (MORCA) to provide help early on during the reentry process. McCourt students Andrew Debraggio (MPP-EP ’20), Leanna Diggs (MPP ’19), and Nathan Legg (MPP-EP ‘20) are proposing R2DC to combat this inequality uniquely affecting D.C.-based returning citizens.

R2DC seeks to collaborate with Rivers Correctional Institute (RCI), a privately-run facility in North Carolina with the 2nd highest quantity of DC residents throughout federal prisons, to streamline the reentry process for DC incarcerated people through a road mapping application through RCI’s infrastructure. This proposal aims to empower returning citizens by allowing them to develop individualized plans to assist them once they are released. Read more about R2DC below:

Describe your proposal in 140 characters or less.
R2DC facilitates a strategic reentry process for DC’s returning citizens by developing a personalized plan of action for them while incarcerated.

How has your proposal changed between the start of the Challenge to now?
Our proposal evolved as we tried to identify the area of reentry that we would be able to have an impact while maintaining feasibility.

What is the biggest challenge you face in addressing the problem you seek to solve?
We are facing a myriad of challenges but one of the biggest is the actual delivery of the project to the users. DC’s incarcerated are scattered all over the country, which make it difficult to effectively distribute information or materials.

Is there anything new you have learned about crafting policy through participating in the Challenge?
The importance of stakeholders cannot be understated. Without buy in from the Mayors Office of Returning Citizens Affairs and Rivers Correctional Institution, we would not have been able to get this project together.

What inspired your proposal?
Reentry is a difficult process for anyone, managing a multitude of necessities under stressful conditions. DC’s incarcerated are disadvantaged compared to the rest of the population, and we hoped to address that inequity.

Say your solution is implemented/funded/approved. How would you define success after 5 years?
We want to measure success in how individuals lives are impacted. We want to work with existing community resources to measure engagement by returning citizens and the reduction of recidivism.

In what ways will your proposed solution attempt to earn returning citizens’ trust to ensure they use the app successfully?
We hope to ensure trust by working with proven, existing resources. MORCA and CSOSA have a proven track record with Rivers, and we hope to serve as a force multiplier for them.