Over 1.7 million Americans were incarcerated in prisons or jails at the end of 2021.
Most of these people will be released and reenter their communities, but many will be unprepared for the transition.
According to a 2021 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), about 66% of persons released from state prisons across 24 states in 2008 were arrested within three years after release, and 82% were arrested within ten years.
Reentry programs give people the support they need to successfully return to their communities after incarceration and can greatly improve public safety.
Types of Reentry Programming
The risks and needs of individuals returning home from incarceration are often unique. The programs and services programs offered to returning individuals should address their critical needs such as housing, employment, family unification, and mental and physical health treatment.
When implementing reentry programming, research supported by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) found staff buy-in to be a critical factor in the success of the reentry program. It's critical for community corrections staff to implement programs with fidelity, and understand the process of the new program and approach their jobs in different ways. This can be challenging for any agency with limited staff.
For some people, their criminal record can be a barrier to finding stable housing and employment, which increases their risk of committing a new crime. Expungement of past charges, where appropriate, can improve their options in the community and decrease recidivism risks.
The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) supported developing Planning a Reentry Program: A Toolkit for Tribal Communities to support tribal justice system practitioners in creating or enhancing reentry programs.
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) developed Reentry Starts Here: A Guide for Youth in Long-Term Juvenile Corrections and Treatment Programs to help young people prepare for reentry into the community. The guide discusses planning for reentry and explains some of the services available to youth upon release.
In FY22, OJP program offices awarded nearly $100 million to help reduce recidivism and support reentry programs nationwide.
BJA helps state, local and tribal jurisdictions improve the capacity and effectiveness of their reentry programs to increase the chances for success of persons returning to their communities after incarceration.
Juvenile reentry and community supervision programs supported through OJJDP help ensure that youth have the opportunities to become productive, law-abiding members of society upon returning to their communities.
How OJP Supports Reentry Programs
April is Second Chance Month, a time to highlight the importance of supporting safe and successful reentry for those returning home from incarceration each year.
The BJA- and OJJDP-supported National Reentry Resource Center is the nation’s primary source of information and guidance on reentry. Through its vast collection of tools and training opportunities, the Center supports implementing evidence-based reentry programs.
Research and evaluation supported by NIJ covers a wide range of reentry-related issues, including a series of three white papers that discuss specific challenges in reentry, an overview of recent NIJ investments in reentry, and a recent Justice Today podcast, From Successful Reentry to Stronger Communities.