The Reentry Roundtable is an ongoing forum that brings together accomplished academics, practitioners, community leaders, policymakers, advocates, and formerly incarcerated individuals to push the envelope of research and practice. Since its inception in 2000, the Urban Institute has convened ten meetings of the Roundtable. To date, topics have covered reentry as it relates to employment, public health, youth development, public safety, housing and homelessness, institutions of civil society (such as businesses and the faith community), education, and the unique challenges and opportunities presented by reentry from local jails. The Roundtables aim to sharpen the nation's thinking on the issues of prisoner reintegration and to foster policy innovations that will improve outcomes for individuals, families, and communities.
The first meeting of the Reentry Roundtable was held in the fall of 2000, with the purpose of exploring prisoner reentry from a variety of perspectives-health, substance abuse, family, gender, race, employment, community capacity, and state criminal justice policies. The Urban Institute commissioned discussion papers by leading academics. Those papers (and two others on mental health and victims' perspectives) were published in a special issue of Crime and Delinquency (Volume 47, Issue 3, 2001). The papers, along with the Roundtable discussion, provided the basis for the Urban Institute monograph entitled "From Prison to Home: The Dimensions and Consequences of Prisoner Reentry."
The second Roundtable focused on the design of a multistate longitudinal study on prisoner reentry, entitled Returning Home: Understanding the Challenged of Prisoner Reentry, with special attention to understanding the impact of reentry on family and community. The Urban Institute is implementing the Returning Home study in Maryland, Illinois, Ohio, and Texas.
The third meeting of the Roundtable focused on the role of the institutions of civil society in creating barriers and bridges to the successful reintegration of former prisoners. This Roundtable focused on democratic participation, the public's attitude toward prisoner reentry and specifically, employers' attitudes toward hiring formerly incarcerated people, and the role of social institutions, such as churches, in the reentry process.
The fourth meeting of the Reentry Roundtable examined the health needs and risks of returning prisoners and their families and highlighted the critical opportunity to improve public safety and public health outcomes. This Roundtable focused not only on the health needs of returning prisoners but also on the problems they pose to their communities and the health care system. The two-day meeting provided an opportunity for participants to explore the places where the corrections, reentry, and health perspectives intersect.
The fifth Reentry Roundtable explored the opportunities for improving employment prospects for returning prisoners. Roundtable participants discussed the policies, practices, problems, and incentives involved in connecting returning prisoners to meaningful employment.
The Youth Reentry Roundtable sought to generate a national discussion about the unique challenges involved in reintegrating young people back into their families and communities after a period of incarceration and to offer policymakers an opportunity to develop effective programs and policies to improve the reentry process.
The Urban Institute convened a special forum to chart a course for housing organizations and criminal justice organizations to work together to improve housing outcomes for individuals leaving prison, their families, and the communities to which they return. The Forum participants represented housing organizations, housing intermediaries, transitional and permanent housing providers, criminal justice practitioners, researchers, public housing managers, community leaders, and former prisoners.
The eighth Reentry Roundtable addressed the nexus between reentry and community policing in the context of public safety. During the two-day meeting, practitioners, academics, service providers and community leaders were brought together to discuss their perspectives on the role of law enforcement in tackling the issue of prisoner reentry.
The Urban Institute, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and the Montgomery County Department of Correction and Rehabilitation partnered to convene a Reentry Roundtable on the topic of reentry from jails. This Roundtable focused attention on the 12 million individuals released from local jails each year and the associated challenges faced by individuals, families, and communities around the country. The Jail Reentry Roundtable aims to fill the gap in knowledge on this issue by commissioning papers, convening a diverse group of practitioners and researchers, conducting a "scan of practice" of jail reentry programs around the country, writing a national report on jail reentry, and developing a training curriculum geared toward jail administrators and correctional staff.
The Prisoner Reentry Institute at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and The Urban Institute co-sponsored a Reentry Roundtable on the topic of education, incarceration, and prisoner reentry on March 31 and April 1, 2008. The two-day discussion explored the need for and current state of correctional education and identified promising new directions for policy, practice and research. The discussions examined the broad range of education programs—including ABE, GED, vocational, and college—that serve individuals with criminal records in prisons and jails as well as in the community after release.