Federally funded programs in the early part of the last decade to help released prison inmates re-enter society provided only modest help, concludes an evaluation published by the Justice Department. The report by Pamela Lattimore of RTI International and Christy Visher of the University of Delaware said the programs provided a significant improvement in services like helping ex-prisoners find jobs, housing, and mental health treatment, but fell short of their needs, Visher said.
The evaluation covered 2,391 participants in a program called the Serious and Violent Offender Re-entry Initiative (SVORI), which had its roots in the Clinton administration but operated mainly in the first term of President George W. Bush. It preceded the federal Second Chance Act, which currently funds prisoner-reentry programs. The evaluation said SVORI programs “appear to have reduced substance use rates among program participants, although overall drug use increased over time for all groups and exceeded 50% at 15 months post release. For the adult men, there were no differences in arrest and reincarceration rates at 24 months (about 70% and 40%, respectively). Women SVORI participants were significantly less likely to have an arrest and more likely to have been reincarcerated.”