City Council Shines Forth!
by
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
September 24, 2009

Last week the San Antonio City Council handled one of the hottest potatoes that a Council could be handed and in my opinion shone brightly in the process. First of all they carefully and diligently listened to four and a half hours of testimony for and against a rezoning request by Crosspoint, a successful re-entry nonprofit attempting to help the formerly incarcerated successfully re-enter society. Crosspoint proposed re-zoning a property known as the Holy Spirit Convent on Yucca Street on San Antonio's Eastside which it is acquiring from the Sisters of the Holy Spirit. Other Crosspoint facilities are in Monte Vista and Tobin Hill.

Disproportionately, other counties house too many of Bexar County's formerly incarcerated.

It is noteworthy that 97% of everyone incarcerated comes back out into the community at some point. The question is how. It is commonly known that 81% of everyone in the Bexar County Jail has already been there before. The U.S. has 5% of the world's population and 25% of its incarcerated.

Crosspoint residents are required to secure employment within 15 days of arrival, and the large majority is successful. Overall, approximately 85% of the formerly incarcerated secure employment that supports transition while residing at Crosspoint.

In 46 years Crosspoint has established relationships with employers who have learned that Crosspoint residents are almost always eager and reliable employees, so the Crosspoint Community Services Specialist is often able to advise residents on job opportunities that meet with success. In FY 2009 Crosspoint residents earned $1.9 million dollars. They returned nearly $500,000 to the federal government to defray the expense of their stay at Crosspoint, and the residents returned to the community with over $250,000 in savings.

In addition to maintaining full time employment, residents are also expected to establish stable, approved residences for release, they are expected to establish a savings program and to build, or rebuild a positive support system with family, friends and support groups. Along with this work, residents receive many classes and groups on topics that include parenting, anger management, addiction and recovery, and general life skills. The Crosspoint program demands a great deal in terms of time and effort so residents are kept busy through much of their stay. Even with this demanding program, over 80% of all residents complete Crosspoint successfully.

Without support, about two thirds of men and women returning from prison are re-arrested and back in jail within three years. Federally funded studies of the Residential Reentry Center system are just getting underway, but all experience and research thus far shows that the kinds of services offered by Crosspoint can reduce this rate of re-arrest by about half.

Facility security includes a whole litany of appropriate measures.

The Mayor and Council deserve great credit for their vision and courage in the difficult task of making the formerly incarcerated productive.

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