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Community Meetings as a Tool in Inmate Reentry

NCJ Number
Justice Research and Policy Volume: 5 Issue: 2 Dated: Fall 2003 Pages: 5-32
Date Published
28 pages

Using survival analysis, this study attempted to determine whether attending the Marion County (Indianapolis), IN, experimental reentry programming had a significant effect on the risk of rearrest among a sample of recent prison releasees.


With the steady increase in prison populations, the number of prisoners released will continue to escalate. It is crucial that the Nation devise effective mechanisms for assisting the transition of inmates from prison to community. In the State of Indiana, the Department of Corrections has developed programs to assist in reentry. However, due to a lack of resources it has been difficult to engage in a systematic problem analysis or an evaluation of the effectiveness of their transition efforts. Indianapolis criminal justice officials, neighborhood leaders, and service providers decided to hold group meetings with individuals who had been released from prison within the last 60 days to convey a deterrence message along with social support. This article, supported by the National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice describes the problem-solving approach employed by Marion County (Indianapolis) which analyzed inmate reentry and reoffending rates as a way of developing an intervention. It presents the findings from the analyses, describes the pilot project and the intervention, and presents the results of the effectiveness of their transition efforts. The study utilized several methodological approaches. The study began by conducting secondary analysis of Department of Correction fiscal year 2000 release data for Marion County (Indianapolis) which consisted of information on those who were released, those who were recommitted, and those nearing release. Following the initial profile, a more thorough analysis of the patterns of former inmate offending and survival was conducted. The findings from the study are consistent with the limited prior research on former inmate reentry to the community. The analysis indicates that inmates returning to the community are a high-risk group. Both interviews and the statistical analysis suggests that younger former inmates, and those with extensive criminal histories, particularly with more felony arrests, are more likely to reoffend. The evaluation of the pilot project did not yield evidence of impact in terms of reducing future offending. However, the pilot project had a relatively small sample of about 100 inmates in treatment which did not generate a high level of statistical power for detecting differences. The meetings may prove to be a tool that could be used as part of a broader strategy that includes intervention prior to release from prisons and follow-up. Tables and references

Date Published: January 1, 2003