MABLETON, Ga., March 5, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The onslaught of the 2020 pandemic has hit many city, county, and state budgets across the country and has created a hole so deep that many systems struggle to find a way not only to meet all the brand new, unprecedented challenges, but also to continue to manage and provide support to established programs, organizations, and vulnerable populations. For Judges and other key decision-makers in the judicial system, the focus has been on how to budget already stretched funds needed to manage the burgeoning prison population. For parents, caregivers, and professionals caring for sick or special needs children, the focus has been on how to continue to provide these children with the opportunity to attend and experience life-enhancing therapy camps. For these two groups of individuals with distinctly-different challenges – nonviolent offenders and children with disabilities, a national 501(c)3 non-profit organization has devised a straightforward solution to help both groups while saving city and county budgets millions of dollars.
What’s the Solution?
Simple- Reachout America, a National Foundation that enables physically challenged children across America the opportunity to attend, experience, and participate in therapeutic camps, has developed a unique way of keeping nonviolent offenders out of jail, saving judicial systems hundreds of thousands of dollars, and helping therapy camps continue to provide world-class, exceptional services to children with special needs: sentence nonviolent offenders to community service hours and help therapy camps. Please be advised that contact between the kids and the offender is not an option.
The Cost of Sending Nonviolent Offenders to Jail
The average daily cost to incarcerate a nonviolent offender is approximately one hundred dollars (providing they do not need special medical attention and/or, in many cases, have a pending lawsuit). The standard settlement or claim is roughly $40,000 per incident. The true cost of imprisoning nonviolent offenders in brick-and-mortar jail cells, however, reaches far beyond the astronomical financial cost of housing, feeding, and medically caring for them on a daily basis. The impact extends out to the community, to the families of the nonviolent offenders, and to the mindset and future outlook of the offenders. Whether they’re sentenced to a few days, weeks, or months, nonviolent offenders in jail typically lose their jobs while serving time behind bars. Further, unnecessary incarceration displaces families and puts undue stress and worry on the children, partners, and other relatives as they try to continue to support their family and maintain their apartments or homes while the main breadwinner sits in jail. Today, the USA workforce desperately needs more essential workers; by locking nonviolent offenders behind bars, they are missing opportunities to contribute to their communities as essential employees in the workforce.
The Savings Incurred
Sentencing a nonviolent offender to community service in lieu of jail time would provide huge savings to a community’s judicial system without any additional cost to implement the program. By embracing the use of community service hours to keep ten individuals out of jail per day in a small municipality, for example, that community’s economy would save over $400,000+ in expenses and lawsuits. A larger municipality that could prevent one hundred individuals from going to jail would conserve at least $4 million (not including lawsuits that could potentially add up to a couple more million).
The Challenge of “Community Service” Sentences
One challenge concerning community service opportunities is the minimal number of organizations and facilities across America that are already set up, positioned, and available for nonviolent offenders to complete their required hours of community service. Enter Reachout America. As an established national foundation headquartered in Georgia, Reachout America has helped children connect with unique and fun therapy camps across the country for decades – all of which are camps fully ready to provide community service hours to nonviolent offenders sent through the court system. Through Reachout America, individuals needing community service hours are able to choose a local therapy camp to support that would obtain funding from their hours completed; camps across America that have community service platforms in place range from horse riding camps that offer Hippotherapy to space camps for children who dream of flying to the moon. While many nonviolent offenders who have received probation hours from a Judge have elected to complete their service hours through Reachout America, the immediate availability of these therapy camps to provide community service hours far outweighs the number of individuals that are currently aware of the camps. Reachout America is working to expand that awareness.
The focus of Reachout America is twofold – to raise awareness of children with special needs and to provide those children with the opportunity to experience therapeutic camps. The benefits reaped by those involved with this Foundation are life-changing and far-reaching. For the children, their parents, the caregivers, and the volunteers alike, everyone who has ever been connected to one or more of the therapy camps feels forever profoundly changed and grateful. Whichever option, platform, or fundraising campaign the nonviolent offender chooses to orchestrate on behalf of a therapy camp (and to complete his/her community service hours), the individuals completing their community service hours through these camps have the benefit of knowing their efforts contribute to children with Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Autism, Congenital Heart Disease (or any one of other countless other ailments) being able to attend a therapy camp. Many testimonials from nonviolent offenders share how serving their community hours for the benefit of a therapy camp profoundly inspired them to reflect on their past choices, count their current blessings, and set goals to become the best versions of themselves while continuing to be of service to others. It’s hard to imagine that nonviolent offenders sitting in jail cells for months would have those same testimonials on the day they are released back into the community.
Connecting with Reachout America
In this unprecedented, uncertain time for cities, states, the nation, and the world, Reachout America has provided a simple solution to help countless individuals, families, and systems in need. Reachout America is on a mission to let judicial systems across America know that there are therapy camps for children with disabilities ready to accept and help their nonviolent offenders complete their community service hours. For judicial systems that desire to balance their budgets, inspire nonviolent offenders to reposition their focus on the needs of others, and help children with special needs throughout their community, Reachout America has provided a way.
SOURCE Reachout America