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Corrections, Reentry & Community Supervision

The Justice Policy Center’s Corrections, Reentry, and Community Supervision researchers inform correctional practices and policies to help improve public safety by reducing recidivism among exiting prisoners and jail inmates. A sample of recent projects is listed below.

Evaluation of the Returning Home Initiative

From 2001 through 2006, our longitudinal, multi-state study Returning Home: Understanding the Challenges of Prisoner Reentry explored the pathways of prisoner reintegration in metropolitan areas across the United States.  The study examined the factors contributing to successful (or unsuccessful) reentry, with the goal of developing a deeper understanding of the reentry experiences of returning prisoners, their families, and their communities.

Returning Home aimed to document the challenges of prisoner reentry along five dimensions: the individual, family, peer, community, and state.  The study involved:

1. Interviews with returning prisoners before and after their release from state correctional facilities,

2. Interviews with family members of those returning prisoners,

3. Focus groups with residents of the neighborhoods to which most prisoners returned, and

4. Interviews with reentry policymakers and practitioners in each state. 

State laws and policies regarding reentry were also reviewed to provide overall policy context. Returning Home began with a pilot study in Baltimore, Maryland (2001-2003), followed by full research studies in Chicago, Illinois (2002-2004), Cleveland, Ohio (2004-2005), and Houston, Texas (2004-2006). Read more about the study on the Returning Home webpage.

What Works in Reentry Clearinghouse

The What Works in Reentry Clearinghouse offers access to rigorous research findings on the effectiveness of a wide array of reentry programs and practices. It provides a user-friendly, one-stop shop for practitioners and policymakers seeking guidance on evidence-based reentry interventions, as well as a useful resource for researchers and others interested in reentry.

Our researchers developed the content for the clearinghouse by culling evaluative reentry research from the field, classifying over studies according to their level of methodological rigor, and assessing the level of evidential strength behind a wide variety of reentry programs and practices.The What Works in Reentry Clearinghouse was developed for the National Reentry Resource Center by the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Urban Institute, with funding provided by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance through the Second Chance Act.

Transition from Jail to Community Initiative

Funded by the National Institute of Corrections, the Transition from Jail to Community (TJC) Initiative involves the development, implementation, and evaluation of a model for jail to community transition. The TJC model is not a discrete program; it is a new way of doing business that entails systems change and the development of collaborative relationships between jail and community partners. The goal of the TJC model is to improve public safety and reintegration outcomes. The TJC Initiative provides technical assistance to six jurisdictions implementing a jurisdiction-specific jail-to-community transition strategy consistent with the TJC model.

The project developed the TJC Online Learning Toolkit, informed by the implementation of the TJC sites, to guide jurisdictions nationwide in designing and carrying out jail transition approaches. This web-based resource provides tools and guidance associated with each component of the TJC model. The TJC Toolkit and other TJC resources can be accessed at the TJC website.

The Role of Parole in Reentry

Funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, this project consisted of three activities 1) development of a policy paper on effective parole supervision strategies and opportunities to move the parole supervision field forward; 2) a national survey of parole supervision practices; and 3) development of a Parole Academy. The policy paper, Putting Public Safety First, was released in December 2008, and details thirteen strategies for effective parole supervision to reduce recidivism and enhance reentry outcomes. Findings from the 2008 Parole Practices Survey detail the degree to which those strategies have been adopted at the field-office level and the organizational factors that relate to their adoption. The Parole Best Practice Training Academy was designed to help supervision agencies implement evidence-based and best practices.

Safer Return: A Research-Based Community Reentry Initiative

Safer Return is a multi-year, research-based demonstration project implemented in the East Garfield Park community area of Chicago, IL. Funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Safer Return Demonstration Project is designed to address the problems faced by formerly incarcerated persons by bringing together a suite of best and promising practices in one reentry program. Safer Return aims to promote successful reentry by:

1. Addressing the key needs of formerly incarcerated persons, including gainful employment and access to services such as drug and alcohol treatment

2. Introducing system reforms, such as comprehensive family-inclusive case management and neighborhood-based parole officers

3. Improving the local conditions that present barriers to success, such as increasing access to pro-social activities and positive role models.

Using a quasi-experimental design with multiple methods, UI researchers are conducting a process, impact, and economic evaluation of the demonstration focused on individual, family, and community outcomes. Read the full report. 

Jail Population Reduction for Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JPR)

This project supported and documented the development of an evidence-based, strategic approach to justice reinvestment in three jurisdictions: Alachua County, Florida; Allegheny County, Pennsylvania; and Travis County, Texas. Employing a local data-driven approach and a collaborative system-wide decision making process in each jurisdiction, sites developed data-driven strategies to reduce correctional costs and free up jail space for those who pose the greatest risk to public safety. Once implemented, the costs savings associated with these strategies will be reinvested in efforts designed to prevent crime and reduce recidivism in these communities.

Safer Return Demonstration Project: Examining the Impact of Family-Inclusive Case Management on Reentry Outcomes

The Safer Return Demonstration Project provides comprehensive reentry support to individuals released from the Illinois Department of Corrections to the East Garfield Park community of Chicago, IL. Through Safer Return, individual participants receive a host of services pre- and post-release. A critical service of the Safer Return Project is the case management component, which is family-inclusive based on the La Bodega de la Familia model developed by Family Justice.

With funding from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, our researchers are conducting an evaluation of Safer Return’s family-inclusive case management using a quasi-experimental design. With qualitative and quantitative data, our researchers are assessing whether program participants receive more case management than formerly incarcerated persons released to a comparison community, and whether increased case management leads to better reentry outcomes. Read the interim report.

Transitional Jobs Reentry Demonstration (TJRD)

This project was a random assignment research design to test two different ways to help people find work after leaving prison: through transitional jobs programs or through job search services. Using data from the Transitional Jobs Reentry Demonstration evaluation, we found that former prisoners who spent 30 workdays or more in a TJ were 14 percent more likely to obtain an unsubsidized job in the subsequent six months (45% vs. 31%). No other TJ program components (e.g., job development, case management, retention bonuses) individually affected employment or recidivism. Although non-experimental, analyses incorporated regression-based adjustments for selection bias. Future research evaluating different components of TJ programs via random assignment design is recommended. MDRC lead this project with the Urban Institute and University of Michigan as partners. The project was funded by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor. Read the research brief and related journal article

Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections/Corporation for Supportive Housing Pilot Project

Our evaluation of a supportive housing reentry pilot project, "Returning Home-Ohio," yielded positive outcomes for program participants. The pilot project, developed jointly by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and the Corporation for Supportive Housing, was designed for disabled prisoners returning from state prison to five Ohio cities. We found that RHO participants were significantly less likely to be rearrested or reincarcerated within one year of release and significantly more likely to be delivered substance abuse and mental health services, relative to a comparison group. Read the final report.