Wise leaders suggest county re-entry program

Those who deal with criminal justice in Martin County believe they are on to something in the form of re-entry programs. These assist inmates in the transition back into the world outside jail, offering help with housing, mental health and jobs, among other things. The problem for many inmates is that they leave jail without a good plan, so they fail. This can lead to new crimes, which burden victims, the criminal justice system and taxpayers.

Officials including Fairmont Police Chief Greg Brolsma and District Court Judge Robert Walker appealed to Martin County commissioners this week, asking that the county pursue grant funding start a re-entry program. Commissioners wisely agreed to go after the funding. Walker says Martin County has a revolving door at the jail, where the same inmates keep making fresh appearances. A re-entry program would aim to change that fact, and measuring its success would be simple enough.

It is not clear Martin County will get the grant funding it seeks for the program. It also is true that grant funding often expires after a couple of years. But if the results of a re-entry program are good, then the entire county benefits. One might even suggest that the county consider funding this program, regardless of grant dollars. The potential dividend is great.