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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reentry Working Group Addresses Health Disparities

Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Bronx Community Solutions have partnered to form a Bronx Reentry Working Group that will address the health and competing needs of those returning to the Bronx from prisons and jails. There are 128,313 former inmates live in the community and as many as 12 per 1,000 residents are newly released each year. 

Residents of the Bronx face serious health challenges. The Bronx has the highest unemployment rate in the state, (14.1%) with  31% of residents living below the poverty level. 29,709 residents are living with AIDS. The Bronx is ranked as the unhealthiest county of New York’s 62 counties. 
                                                                                                                                            
This working group will address the health disparities of released inmates returning to the Bronx; health cuts in the New York State budget for medical and health services; and the move to close Rikers Island and open the South Bronx Jail. Our working group will document the health and competing needs of our reentry population to better understand and serve these individuals. This assessment will inform policy makers and work closely with different stakeholders to develop creative strategies for a healthier Bronx. The Working Group, under the leadership of Dr. Pamela Valera of Albert Einstein College of Medicine was awarded the National Cancer Institute’s K01 Health and Unmet Needs grant. 

If you would like to join our Reentry Working Group or have resources that you would like included in the Directory of Reentry Resources for the Bronx, please contact Mandy Restivo, Deputy Project Director of Bronx Community Solutions mrestivo@courts.state.ny.us

Mission Statement 
The Bronx Reentry Working Group is a Bronx-based coalition of academic-community partners, corrections, reentry, policy- makers, and residents committed to addressing the social and health disparities of individuals with histories of criminal justice involvement Our objectives include:

1. To improve health outcomes of individuals with histories of criminal justice involvement by providing appropriate service referrals.

2. To increase skills and knowledge of individuals with histories of criminal justice involvement through programming, education and advocacy strategies.

3. To develop a body of literature of what works in helping individuals with histories of criminal justice involvement to successfully transition back into the Bronx. 

4. To increase information sharing and exchange, community engagement and to foster relationships within and between coalition members. 

Current Projects and Activities 
Letter to editor response to Bronx hate crimes (submission date Nov. 15, 2010)
Bronx-based Reentry Symposium Spring 2011
Bronx based Reentry Service Directory/ Webpage (underway/in development)
Bronx Reentry Task Force 
Healthy Eating Workshop for Bronx defendants 

Research Projects 
Health-seeking behavior study for men (ongoing)
Smoking cessation project for women (ongoing)


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