The Maine Prisoner Reentry Network has received A $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, reported the Bangor Daily News.
It represents about 10 times the nonprofit’s typical annual budget, according to Bruce Noddin, who said that the federal grant is the largest sum of money the group has ever received by a longshot. The money will primarily go to hiring more staff, taking on more work and tracking the success of its efforts, he said. He noted the state doesn’t have a lot of information about people who cycle in and out of jails, compared with prison.
Noddin helped found the nonprofit as a volunteer in 2017. He was volunteering at the Androscoggin County Jail when he noticed the same people kept returning to custody. He also thought of how his son, who was incarcerated in Maine State Prison, struggled to get back on his feet after being incarcerated, the January article said.
“What are we doing for these folks?” he wondered. Not much, he saw.
The reentry program aims to connect former prisoners to organizations across Maine that aid those who are reentering society with housing, social services, and jobs. The program’s small staff works as peer mentors inside Maine’s prison system.
“I call it a living, breathing resource guide,” Noddin said.
The group has grown quickly. There has been an increase of around 80 people a week, including recovery experts, district attorneys and social workers. Many now attend Zoom meetings to discuss relevant reentry issues for formerly incarcerated individuals.
“I couldn’t be more happy for MPRN,” said Randall Liberty, commissioner of the Maine Department of Corrections. “What Bruce Noddin and his team have accomplished on behalf of and with the justice-involved is remarkable.