The TJC Sites: Kent County, Michigan

Located in western Michigan, Kent County is the fourth-largest population center in Michigan. The county is home to more than 600,000 people. With a population of about 200,000, the greater Grand Rapids area forms the urban center of the county. In 2011, the Kent County Correctional Facility processed 26,400 bookings. The average length of stay is 11 days, with approximately 45 percent of bookings staying less than 24 hours. The average daily population in 2011 was 1,093. The Kent County Correctional Facility, which houses all inmates committed to the custody of the sheriff, ranks among the 100 largest jails in the nation.

Kent County applied to be a TJC site reduce the obstacles formerly incarcerated persons face in transitioning from jail to the community; to evaluate, select and implement a risk and needs assessment process for the Kent County Correctional Facility; to develop and implement programming in the jail to prepare clients for release; and to develop community ownership and collaboration to work with the reentry efforts in Kent County. With leadership from the Community Reentry Coordinating Council, including many community partners, Kent County made substantial progress in all these areas. In addition to implementing the Proxy screening instrument to allow for the reentry effort to target a high-risk population, Kent County created a 32-bed reentry pod for men that includes courses and services to assist inmates in the reentry process. In addition to the men's pod, a 20-bed women's pod was implemented in April 2012 targeting the high-risk female offender population. 

The TJC process in Kent County demonstrated that the sheriff and jail must have a shared vision and good collaboration with community treatment providers to competently implement reentry programs. "Without braided funding and significant collaboration between the sheriff and other community agencies and funders, reentry services would not be as comprehensive as we have currently implemented or possible," notes Ross Buitendorp of Network180, a community agency that connects individuals and their families in Kent County to services for mental illness, substance-use disorders, or developmental disabilities. Kent County continues to move in a positive direction after the TJC assistance period ended. 

For more information, refer to the TJC Phase I final evaluation report or contact Kent County Inmate Program Coordinator Rob Steele at Rob.Steele@kentcountymi.gov.