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Task force looking at ways to reduce rate of repeat criminals

Posted October 8, 2009

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— A task force of individuals representing the state court system, law enforcement agencies and community groups met for the first time Thursday in Raleigh to tackle the state's recidivism rate.

"It's so frustrating that almost 40 percent of people who leave our prison system will be right back in again within three years," said Attorney General Roy Cooper, who urged Gov. Bev Perdue to commission the StreetSafe Task Force earlier this year.

An average of more than 28,000 inmates are released from prison each year.

The force will look at why people offend again and then implement programs to reduce the number of repeat criminal offenders and to give ex-offenders training and skills to stay away from crime.

"The fact of the matter is that most of the people who go to prison will serve their sentences and be back in the community again," Cooper said. "We're seeing a very high recidivism rate, because often times, they fall back in again with the same people and aren't able to seek out changes they need."

About 40 professionals in the criminal justice and related fields, as well as civic and faith-based groups, met at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh about the issue. Cooper's office and the Department of Correction are overseeing the task force.

Cooper said the task force will look at how to coordinate programs already available that help inmates who have been released.

"There are a lot of eager volunteers out there who are ready to do this work," Cooper said. "It won't cost the state a penny. We just need to coordinate it and enable them to do it. If we pull all these people together, we can reduce the number of repeat offenders and keep our communities safe. The bottom line is we want safe communities."

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