Through our Reentry work, CJI provides technical assistance and support to corrections organizations and community-based programs developing and implementing effective and innovative practices intended to ease the transition of inmates and prisoners returning to the community from jail and prison. We work with agency leaders and staff to help implement evidence-based practices including risk and needs assessment, effective community supervision, and case planning. Our experience also includes the creation of a directory to connect individuals returning from prison or jail with transitional and reentry services and a reentry mapping project.
Improving the success rate of prisoners returning from jail and prison is of vital importance to improving public safety and reducing corrections costs. In 2014, approximately 636,000 prisoners were released from State and Federal prisons. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, approximately 3 in 4 former prisoners will be re-arrested within 5 years of their release.
The transition from incarceration to the community is a difficult time for ex-offenders. The needs of the population returning from prison or jail can present significant obstacles to achieving stability. Returning prisoners may need support in:
- Finding a permanent residence;
- Obtaining official government identification;
- Acquiring employment;
- Maintaining sobriety;
- Getting access to needed medical treatment; and
- Reengaging with education and vocational training efforts.
While it easy to focus reentry planning efforts on the individual alone, the impact of their absence and return can have a profound impact on families and communities, who may also require support. Many services and agencies may already exist in communities to provide the type of support that can mean the difference between an ex-offender's success and a return to prison or jail. Providing returnees with information about how to access services available to them can help to address some of the minor but significant obstacles that reduce the chances of success.
Examples of our work in this area include:
Coming Home Reentry Resource Directory
CJI manages, produces, and distributes on a yearly basis, the Coming Home Reentry Resource Directory, with funding from the Gardiner Howland Shaw Foundation. As a compilation of services available to ex-offenders returning to or living in Greater Boston communities, it presents important information for ex-offenders, corrections practitioners and policymakers, as well as those with an interest in accessing services for ex-offenders, including their families and friends, volunteers, and other service providers. The Directory is easily accessible in both online and hardcopy forms, and is disseminated widely to relevant organizations.
Our work on the Directory includes:
- Updating the Directory annually through outreach to currently listed organizations and programs, and to services and programs not in the Directory whose presence in the Directory would be of benefit to users, and;
- Conducting dissemination and outreach efforts to expand the users of the Directory to include all organizations identified in the Directory, state agencies that interact with ex-offenders, their families or friends, community organizations, and institutions
Technical Assistance for the National Reentry Resource Center
CJI has provided technical assistance to Second Chance Grant Act grantees to support implementation and program improvement. Passed by Congress in 2008, the Second Chance Act was created to assist jurisdictions in improving processes to transition individuals being released from prisons and jails back into their communities. Nonprofit and government agencies receive Second Chance Act funding for a variety of program areas including substance abuse treatment, housing, employment, and education assistance.
In order to assist grantees in successfully implementing strategies to improve the reentry process, CJI:
- Presented at Second Chance Act grantee conferences;
- Contributed to developing content for the National Reentry Resource Center website; and
- Conducted technical assistance site visits to Second Chance Act grantees.
Site visits allow us to learn more about grantee’s programs by assessing the client population makeup, examining intake processes, identifying risk profiles, and understanding how programs are measuring risk. At the end of the site visit, we prepared a written report for the program that provides a summary of the site visit and recommendations for improvement.
Boston Prisoner Reentry Mapping
CJI was contracted by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to provide technical assistance to the City of Boston in response to the unexpected release of inmates from state prison and county jail as a result of the Hinton Drug Lab scandal, in which a lab technician falsified lab tests, compromising evidence. Early estimates suggested that upwards of 600 inmates could be released in a few short months due to concerns about the handling of evidence in their cases. To help the City of Boston prepare for these releases, we were tasked with:
- Conducting a comprehensive assessment based on stakeholder needs, priorities, and available data;
- Drafting a series of maps showing service providers and releasee locations;
- Creating a profile of releases including their needs, risk level, and other important information needed by service providers;
- Preparing a brief review of best practices in reentry mapping; and
- Authoring a detailed final report documenting the process, methodology, outcomes, and recommendations.