John and Tom are both ex-offenders released from prison on the same day in separate parts of the country – two of the more than 1,800 offenders each day or nearly 700,000 each year. Both have access to reintegration programs, which help them through the transition by aiding with job training, housing, and access to community resources. John successfully finds a job with the help of his program. Three years later, he’s adjusted well and hasn’t returned to prison.
Tom, on the other hand, is much less successful. He leaves his transitional job and six months after his release, he returns to jail, a victim of the depressing statistics, which include a 50 percent recidivism rate for former offenders in the United States.
So what makes John and Tom’s stories so different? Let’s find out.
Until recently, there was a severely limited understanding as to why criminal rehabilitation programs varied widely in their outcomes. In other words, there was little interest in or understanding of why John succeeded and Tom did not.
However, with the advent of the Second Chance Act in 2007, which provides federal grants for programs and services that aim to reduce recidivism and improve offender outcomes, there has been an increasing interest in understanding what makes reentry programs successful. Furthermore, the high cost of incarceration, which is estimated around $31,000 per person per year, has inspired some states to look closely at why their programs have historically had such low success rates and how they can improve those numbers.
In our work with organizations like the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, we’ve identified four elements which can help state agencies and partner organizations utilize resources more effectively and focus on creating reentry programs for inmates with the best possible outcomes.
Read on to find out how you can ensure your prison population follows in John’s footsteps through successful, evidence-based release programs.