Reducing “Recidivism” – Improving Our Public Safety

This month I would like to bring to your attention a subject that is difficult for many of us to talk about, especially individuals up for election on the ballot in November, but I believe strongly in the concepts of judgment, redemption, forgiveness, mercy and grace. The subject is about those individuals who are returning into our society from our jails and prisons and trying to increase their chances of being productive citizens and reducing future crimes. Recidivism – is defined as an additional felony committed within 3 years of being released.

I have served on the Governor’s Re-entry Council and the Marion County Re-entry Council for many years now and have witnessed the work of many individuals and teams of people who have made a difference in the lives of those returning after serving their sentences. Lives are changed and there is a return to our greater community in less crime and lower incarceration costs due to the changes that have taken place locally. This past month the Board of Commissioners formally “closed” out the Second Chance Federal grants that have helped us make these changes. I wish to highlight an amazing result that Commander Jeff Wood of Marion County Sherriff’s Department shared with us at the formal presentation:
• 2009 – Recidivism at 33%, about 1/3 of approximately 600 releases would recommit within 3 years, or 200 felonies
• 2014 – Recidivism at 14% – means that less than 100 have committed another felony

This means less crime in our neighborhoods and changed lives that cannot have a dollar amount placed on them. How has this happened?
• In 2009 the non report to parole officers was 33%, 1/3 of released individuals didn’t make it to parole and probation
• In 2014 the non report is right about 2%

One simple change occurred with our parole and probation deputies and how they initiated trusting relationships. In the past when an inmate was released they were given instructions to report to their parole officer at a certain place and time. Currently 6 months before release, any individual coming back to Marion County will be contacted personally in the jail by our parole and probation officer and they will begin the relationship before they are released.

If you are interested in hearing more about our local re-entry efforts and how you may want to become involved please visit the Marion County Re-entry website

Thank you for your continued interest in our County. As always my doors are open and you may contact me at 503.588.5212 or email me at To learn more about the Board of Commissioners you can visit their website at It continues to be an honor and privilege to serve the citizens of Marion County. Thank you.