U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.


Special Feature


The needs of individuals reentering the community are profound and wide-ranging, creating a high need for services to assist them in their transition.

holistic approach to reentry – one that emphasizes the challenges faced by individuals as they return, and the impact of their return on families, victims, and communities – is critical to addressing public safety and reducing recidivism.

report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics examined the recidivism patterns of more than 400,000 individuals released from state prisons in 2008 and found that forty-three percent of the study group were arrested in the first year following release.  Importantly, 82 percent were arrested at least once during the 10 years following their release.

Research has shown that reentry support is most important in the first days, weeks, and months immediately following release, when the risk of recidivism is highest.

The First Step Act (FSA) of 2018, signed into law in December 2018, aims to reduce recidivism and reform the federal prison system so that those exiting the system do not return.  Under the FSA, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) contracted with independent external experts to develop the Prisoner Assessment Tool Targeting Estimated Risk and Needs, PATTERN, a risk assessment tool which is critical to the successful implementation of the FSA.

NIJ-supported research has also shown that there is no one-size-fits-all model for successful reentry.  Some of NIJ’s most significant investments in reentry include evaluations of the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative and the Second Chance Act, which sought to improve reentry outcomes.

To help young people prepare for reentry and success in the community, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention developed Reentry Starts Here:  A Guide for Youth in Long-Term Juvenile Corrections and Treatment Programs.  The toolkit discusses planning for reentry and explains some of the services available to youth upon their release.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), through programs such as the Innovations in Reentry Initiative, helps local and tribal jurisdictions improve the capacity and effectiveness of their reentry programs to increase the success of those returning to their communities from incarceration.  Additionally, the BJA-funded and administered National Reentry Resource Center serves as the nation’s primary source of information and guidance in reentry.

Visit the following pages for additional resources from the Office of Justice Programs and other federal sources:

Date Modified: March 31, 2021
Date Created: August 13, 2020