Suffolk sheriff aims to prevent repeat offenders

Suffolk Sheriff Vincent DeMarco made recommendations Thursday that he says would reduce recidivism for former inmates.

Joined by several former inmates in Smithtown, DeMarco touted the Suffolk County Re-entry Task Force, and said he wants to improve former inmates' access to human services, particularly focusing on women and children.

Former Suffolk inmate Debra Pure, who spent 20 years in and out of the system, told the Legislature's Public Safety Committee that she is a success story of the program.

"[The program] gave me a little leeway to go to school and get my sobriety...and get a job so I can be a productive member," said Pure.

DeMarco told the committee that his re-entry program has now been offered to 180 non-violent teens, young adults and now women like Debra Pure. He says the program has cut recidivism by up to 80 percent.

"It shows what we are doing is working and that's what this is all about - changing people's lives," said DeMarco.

The sheriff says because of success stories like Debra's, the re-entry program is able to save taxpayers over $10 million a year by cutting the jail population.

The re-entry program is funded entirely by state and federal law enforcement grants, which help those at high risk of recidivism with needs such as housing, employment and substance abuse treatment.


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