At least 50 jails operate programs to help inmates return successfully to society, Amy Solomon of the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Institute told the first national conference on jail prisoner re-entry yesterday. Projects identified by the institute in an ongoing survey range from the “RIDE” discharge planning program at New York City’s Rikers Island jail to a “drug farm” in Palm Beach County, Fl., that combines drug treatment, extensive therapy, and military-style discipline. Before the institute’s “Jail Re-entry Roundtable” this week, more attention had been paid to re-entry of inmates from state prisons, which house more than 1 million inmates. Jails house about 700,000 daily but length of stays often are less than two weeks, so many more prisoners move through them each year.
Jail re-entry programs “produce benefit large enough to offset the cost of the investment with only a modest reduction in crime,” the institute’s John Roman and Aaron Chalfin told the conference. “Small reductions in crime yield large benefits to the public,” they said. Their paper and others from the session are available at the Web site link below. The conference, which was attended by jail administrators and other criminal justice practitioners and experts, was sponsored by the institute, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and the Montgomery County, Md., Department of Correction and Rehabilitation. It will produce a report next year on jail re-entry practices.