A majority of released prison inmates interviewed in a federal evaluation “seemed to recognize some aspect of their own behavior that they need to change,” says an article by criminologists Christy Visher and Pamela Lattimore for the National Institute of Justice, the Justice Department’s research agency. Almost two-thirds reported needing to work on their personal relationships, and more than half said they needed a mentor and spiritual or religious assistance. One-third reported needing anger management training.
The study is part of the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative (SVORI). The program tries to address the criminal justice, employment, education, health, and housing challenges that adult and juvenile offenders face when they return to the community. RTI International and the Urban Institute are conducting a 5-year evaluation of the effectiveness of SVORI programs. Researchers interviewed prisoners at 16 sites, asking them shortly before they were released what services they felt they would need. More than half of the men in the group are African American; the majority are neither married nor in a steady relationship; average age of the men is 29. Sixty percent are fathers of minor children, and nearly half of them reported having primary care responsibilities. Less than two-thirds have completed 12th grade or earned a high school equivalency degree. The majority reported having family members and friends who had been convicted of a crime or had problems with drugs and alcohol. The evaluation will examine recidivism and other outcomes at 12 and 24 months ater release. For more information, see www.svori-evaluation.org.