Inmates Book Club in DC Wins One of 4 ‘Outstanding Justice’ Awards

The Free Minds Book Club, which offers book discussions and writing workshops to current and former jail and prison inmates, was one of four programs honored this year by the National Criminal Justice Association as innovative programs worth repeating elsewhere. Other awards went to programs in Minnesota, Georgia and Los Angeles. In DC, only five percent of ex-inmates in the book club program reoffended.

Criminal justice programs from Georgia, Minnesota, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have won awards from the National Criminal Justice Association. The group, which announced the honors at its National Forum on Criminal Justice held this week in Long Beach, Ca., recognizes programs in each of four regions that have been proved successful and can be easily replicated elsewhere.

In the Midwest, the award was given to Minnesota’s High Risk Revocation Reduction Program, which offers services to men who have violated their release conditions but have not yet returned to prison. An evaluation showed that the effort has reduced new convictions by 43 percent.

The South Region award was won by Georgia’s juvenile justice incentive grants, which have allowed the state to reduce the number of juveniles in prison by providing them a variety of evidence-based rehabilitation programs. The grants have helped 4,511 youths, with a graduation rate of 62 percent.

In the West, the award went to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Community Police Unification Program, which provides mediation to resolve complaints against police officers for discourtesy and bias. A vast majority of participants were satisfied with the outcomes.

The Northeast Region award went to the Free Minds Book Club in Washington, D.C., which offers book discussions and writing workshops to current and former jail and prison inmates. Last year, only five percent of those in the program’s Reentry Book Club re-offended.