Greitens cuts funding for program reintegrating imprisoned veterans

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - During the campaign, Governor Eric Greitens said he would do everything he could to balance the state budget. One of the items he cut two days ago is state funding for prison reentry programs, a move affecting many veterans who live in St. Louis.

The governor cut a $150,000 contract with St. Louis-based Criminal Justice Ministry. Approximately 80 percent of CJM’s clients are veterans who were incarcerated and need basic help reentering society.

“I just don’t think the governor has thought this through,” said Aaron Laxiton, director of client services at CJM. “He may not know enough about what we do.”

When an inmate is eligible for parole, they must have a housing plan to leave and enter society, supervised. Most individuals can’t afford one and that’s where CJM comes into play.

“These funds are critical in helping clients return home from prison to have any possibility of being successful and reentering the community,” Laxton said.

A University of Missouri study said CJM's housing program has a 78 percent success rate over a 10-year program with state funding. Laxton said CJM matters for anyone who cares about public safety in St. Louis.

“If we don’t give clients any opportunities after prison, they will go back to what they know,” he said.

Mike Tverdick said he used CJM’s housing program to reset his life after prison. The veteran earned his GED and works different jobs to become a productive member of society.

“If (Greitens) continues to do this he will make a lot of vets very upset,” Tverdick said.

The Missouri Department of Corrections is currently overpopulated by about a thousand people. A University of Missouri-St. Louis study shows CJM’s services saves the state $2 for every dollar spent on the program.

Fox 2 reached out to Governor Greitens’ office for a statement but did not hear back.