By Glen Mills
Salt Lake City, Utah- (ABC4 Utah) – Salt Lake County is hoping to turn the tide on the alarmingly high recidivism rates for inmates.
Thursday, officials unveiled the latest tool to help people get back on their feet.
It's the First Step House REACH program. The goal is to close the revolving door at the state prison and county jail.
Incarceration can be a vicious cycle. Ray Dumas knows that from personal experience.
"In and out of jail, prison, back to jail, homeless, didn't care about myself," he said.
But, that was the old Ray. He was set free a little more than 10 years ago. The new Ray is a productive member of our community.
"I got offered treatment, and it saved my life."
Now he is helping others, working at the First Step House.
The organization was selected to administer the REACH program for outgoing inmates, who are at risk of finding themselves back behind bars.
"REACH stands for; Recovery, Engagement, Assessment, Career and Housing," said Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams.
The program will receive about $5.5 million as part of the county's pay for success initiative.
"It uses private dollars from funders who are willing to pay up from costs," said McAdams.
Those dollars will provide mental health, and substance abuse counseling, employment training and transitional housing.
"We believe this program is critically important to improving lives, and to protecting the public," said McAdams.
It's the same opportunity Dumas was given to turn his life around.
"It's an amazing journey. I never thought I'd work doing something like this, and today I'm living the dream," said Dumas.
The program has funding to assist 225 clients, the first of which are expected to be enrolled by the first of next month.
If the program produces successful outcomes, the initial investors will be paid back.