Providing inmates the opportunity to engage with community service providers prior to release from prison and ensuring they receive immediate support after release are among the most effective strategies for successful reentry, according to a report co-authored by the Research Triangle Institute and the Urban Institute.
In “Second Chance Act Adult Offender Reentry Demonstration Programs Implementation Challenges and Lessons Learned,” the authors evaluate the effectiveness of several programs that aim to reduce recidivism by providing former inmates with education, job training and mental health treatment, among other services. The study is based on a survey of programs in California, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
The programs are among 22 adult offender reentry demonstration programs nationwide that receive funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance as part of the Second Chance Act signed into law in 2008.
“Stakeholders from several sites felt that it was helpful to have staff and volunteers who have criminal histories or have family members who were or are incarcerated. program to address participant characteristics,” write authors Christine Lindquist, Janeen Buck Willison, Shelli Rossman, Jennifer Hardison Walters and Pamela K. Lattimore, among other recommendations. “That kind of street credibility not only helps the staff understand participants' perspectives but also helps participants feel that they are being assisted by someone who is empathetic and whose model for life changes they might be able to emulate.”
For instance, the reentry program at the Connecticut Department of Corrections employs former offenders in community reentry advocate roles. Staff working on the program for female offenders at the Solano County Jail in California are trying to build an alumni network to enable the women to help one another.
Read the full report HERE.