The vast majority of individuals arrested in America will eventually come into contact with a pretrial, probation, or parole officer. At year-end 2016, an estimated 6.6 million persons were under the supervision of U.S. adult correctional systems. More than 4.5 million of them were serving a community supervision sentence, the lowest number of persons under community supervision since 1999.
Transitioning back into communities following a period of incarceration can be a challenge for a number of reasons, ranging from substance abuse to a lack of employment options. However, corrections officials have the opportunity to work with community treatment organizations to match the appropriate supervision and service to the right person at the right time.
In December 2018, the First Step Act (FSA) was passed. A significant piece of legislation for criminal justice reform, the FSA aims to reform the federal prison system by providing rehabilitative support to offenders so they are better able to succeed once they return to their communities. Additionally, the FSA includes the Second Chance Reauthorization Act (SCRA) of 2018. Both the FSA and SCRA are key to the provision of services and programming for returning offenders.
As a component of the FSA, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) released an evaluation of best practices for academic and vocational programs. Overall, some correctional interventions – including education and employment programs – show promising effects, but these programs continue to be evaluated and there is still much to learn.
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's (OJJDP) reentry programs help ensure that youth have the tools to become productive, law-abiding members of society upon their return. Second Chance Act programs provide specialized services to youth and promote family engagement between incarcerated parents and their children. The programs are part of OJJDP's comprehensive approach to enhance public safety, hold youth accountable when they offend, and empower all youth to live up to their full potential.
To help inform practitioners and policymakers, NIJ's CrimeSolutions.ojp.gov has reviewed numerous community corrections programs and practices, detailing what works, what doesn't, and what is promising in achieving specific outcomes.
Additionally, through the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Innovations in Supervision Initiative provides funding for community corrections agencies to develop and implement evidence-based probation and parole practices that address an individual's needs and improve supervision success rates. Improved success rates can lead to greater community safety, fewer admissions and returns to prisons and jails, and increased savings for taxpayers.
Visit the following pages for additional information and resources produced or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs and other federal agencies: