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County Developing Program To Fight Recidivism In Non-Violent Offenders

Bexar County

Bexar County is moving ahead to the next step in their effort to reduce the number of non-violent repeat offenders in county jails, which costs the county millions per year.

The county’s re-entry program, which was proposed in a think-tank that met in San Antonio last year, now is getting a building and a curriculum.

The new center will be constructed in an old jail annex building down the street from the existing jail. Mike Lozito is designing the program according to the different needs identified by the committees in the re-entry council.

"Housing and social services subcommittee, we have an employment subcommittee, faith-based subcommittee, mental health and substance abuse, and it's basically all those areas that deal with individuals that come out of prison or jail. These areas are generally those that will contribute to them going back to crime," Lozito said.

Lozito said the county is applying for a $1.5 million federal grant to work with low-level offenders who keep recycling back into jail many times a year. Offenses like trespassing, theft, or possession of marijuana.

Lozito said the state has funds to provide services for felony offenders, but misdemeanor offenders generally fall through the cracks. He said reducing recidivism means fewer victims and a safer community, but it also saves money for taxpayers --the county estimates it spends $8 million a year for every 400 inmates, and 75 percent of those in the jail have been there before.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.