As a judge for the Court of Common Pleas, Judge Ramy Djerassi said he was constantly frustrated with a lack of information.
“Where to send particular defendants for treatment, for addiction treatment, for vocational training, for GED programs?” the Philadelphia judge wondered.
This frustration was the origin of the newly launched Prisoner Reentry Network, which is meant to be a portal to all the resources available to those recently released from jail or prison.
The online service directory can also become a platform to share a client’s case files and medical records.
“People are in prison, in jail, coming out with an idea of what they want to do, but often they run into obstacles on day one,” said Ann Schwartzman, interim director of the Pennsylvania Prison Society, a partner in the initiative.
According to Schwartzman, approximately 200,000 Philadelphians have been formerly incarcerated, including 30,000 currently on probation and parole.
“This can help push through some of those challenges, really get them the services they need the minute they need it so that they don’t have to wait and, unfortunately, maybe get into trouble again.”
Funding comes from the city of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services.