Special Feature: Reentry
At year-end 2016, state and federal correctional authorities had released more than 600,000 Americans during the year and more than 4.5 million were serving a community supervision sentence.
These individuals are often released from prison or jail with critical barriers to successful reentry that need to be overcome. Some have substance abuse issues, others have no place to live, and a criminal record hurts many in their chances of finding a job. For most, it's only a matter of time before they return to prison. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 68 percent of state prisoners are re-arrested within three years of their release.
Research has shown that reentry support is most critical in the first days, weeks, and months immediately following release, when the risk of recidivism is highest. Even modest reductions in recidivism will result in fewer crimes and victims. Community supervision strategies that help improve outcomes while holding individuals accountable for their behaviors directly advance public safety objectives. Focusing on recidivism reduction can lead to powerful results.
Technology is emerging as an important tool in offender reentry to monitor offenders in the community. A combination of appropriate service provision, community change, and the application of technology is key to promoting public safety among returning offenders. GPS has been shown to be an effective monitoring tool for individuals on parole and an NIJ-funded study found that kiosk supervision for low-risk offenders was more effective in reducing new violations and recidivism than conventional supervision.
Young people leaving juvenile justice residential placement also face numerous unique concerns as they return to their communities. According to data captured in OJJDP's Statistical Briefing Book, each year there are more than 48,043 youth in placement on any given day. For youth leaving detention, having a team of people to support them in reentry, including a mentor, is critical. Young people who have the help of a mentor are often more successful in reentry.
Collateral consequences, the sanctions and disqualifications that fall on individuals trying to re-enter society, can burden individuals long past the expiration of their sentences and make moving past their criminal records more difficult.
Not only do these sanctions impact the individuals upon whom they fall, but also their families and communities. For example, as a result of being unable to find employment due to a criminal record, individuals recently released from incarceration are then unable to contribute financially to their family households.
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