Chairperson Sen. Stinner and Appropriations Committee Members
District #48, Room 1305 State Capitol
PO Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
February 3, 2022
Dear Senator Stinner and Appropriations Committee Members,
My name is Jasmine L. Harris. I am the Director of Public Policy & Advocacy for RISE. I request that this testimony be included as part of the public hearing record that shows RISE is in support of LB1111.
RISE is the largest nonprofit organization in Nebraska focused solely on habilitative programming in prisons and reentry support. At RISE, transformation starts pre-release and continues post-release. Our inside/out model bridges incarceration to the community and considers all the critical steps in that journey. We prepare and train people for each phase through intensive character development, employment readiness, job creation through entrepreneurship, family programming and case management. We transform people in the community by building awareness and empathy that leads to support and opportunity. These connections heal families, create employment pathways and lower recidivism. The mission of RISE is to break generational cycles of incarceration.
With the continuation of overcrowding in state correctional facilities and high rates of reincarceration, funding for effective, evidence-based reentry programming must be appropriated. It is time for the state to adopt empirically sound, evidence-based practices that truly prepare Nebraskans for reentry from incarceration. Over the past 5 years, RISE has provided such reentry services to hundreds of returning Nebraskans through a comprehensive, inside-out reentry model and stands as the only reentry program in the state offering such a continuum of care.
RISE provides six-months of intensive, in-prison programming based on empirically supported evidence-based practices that results in significant growth in areas of character development such as positive behavior, hope and empowerment, grit, coping, decision making, and even employment readiness. Upon completion of this program, participants begin a year-long process of reentry planning and preparation. Reentry planning and preparation is challenging and complex and requires dedicated staffing, time and trust between the incarcerated individuals and reentry specialists.
Most importantly, RISE understands that reentry does not stop at the door. Reentry does not stop once a person leaves prison. Reentry requires someone to walk with those returning home and providing support, hope and encouragement; not just a punishment when mistakes are made. Because RISE begins providing reentry services prior to release, relationships are built and trust is formed, and participants experience a continuum of reentry care that is unrivaled. RISE provides reentry services in a way that matches the risks, needs, and responsivity of each participant; this is true individualized case management. RISE ensures that every participant has safe housing upon
release, basic needs, and support in the form of around the clock case management and crisis intervention. RISE wants to see participants succeed and keep communities safe.
This model of operations that RISE has adopted has yielded much success. However, reentry remains a crisis in this state, and it must be treated as such. Without providing adequate reentry services, the revolving door of our criminal justice system will never stop spinning.
As of today, RISE is the only organization in the state providing evidence-based, inside-out reentry programming and services to returning Nebraskans. And RISE is positioned to do more. RISE has the infrastructure, experience, data, and knowledge to support existing reentry programming and services along with future needs of the population. With additional funding and support from Senators and the state, RISE is ready to lead the state’s reentry efforts, reduce recidivism, and keep Nebraska communities safe.
For these reasons, RISE supports LB1111 and asks that committee members vote this bill out of committee to General File.
Jasmine L. Harris, MPH, CHES
Director of Public Policy & Advocacy, RISE