ST. CLOUD -- Helping inmates get back on their feet after being released from jail is the goal of the RAP team.

The Stearns County Jail and Stearns County Public Health organization partnered together to create the Release Advance Planning (RAP) group. Program coordinator Jeff Pollreis says the group never wants to see a former inmate back in jail.

"In the past, we had let inmates leave and we didn't fulfill their needs and they came back. We wanted to stop the recidivism rate, so that's what this group is all about and that's exactly what the group does, it meets with the inmates ahead of time, deals with very complex and very simple needs, we create their plan and that's what makes the group successful."

RAP helps provide resources to inmates that they might need as they are being released from jail. Pollreis says some of these resources include providing paperwork to an inmate to apply for health insurance, giving them information on chemical dependency treatment options, how to search for a job and housing information.

The RAP program is not required for every inmate to go through, Pollreis says it's just recommended.

"I know the inmates better than I know my own family, because I deal with them daily. Just word of mouth, word of mouth success that we've "wrapped" in the past, they'll spread word in the units, we have postings in the units, [we have a video in our education department], so we don't really blast it out there, it just kind of ferments and gets out there."

The RAP team consists of a jail programmer, homeless outreach coordinator, probation officers, child support officers, chemical dependency and metal health professionals county social and financial workers, representatives from legal aid and a representative from the VA Medical Center.

Inmates that go through the RAP program have reduced their chances of returning to jail by 72 percent.

The Release Advance Planning group was formed in 2003. Stearns County was the first county in the state to have a RAP team.