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Closing the Legal Services Gap in Prisoner Reentry Programs

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Studies: A Critical Journal of Crime, Law and Society Volume: 21 Issue: 1 Dated: March 2008 Pages: 15-25
Jessica S. Henry
Date Published
March 2008
11 pages
This paper examines the data surrounding the availability of legal services at major prisoner reentry initiatives.
Reentry models must begin to assess how they can meet the legal needs of returning individuals. On possible way is to create partnerships with existing legal service institutions. In addition, partnerships could be forged between public defender offices and prisoner reentry programs. The existence of this type of entrenched relationship is that it would allow for the seamless provision of legal services to individuals who seek to reenter society. The high volume of people returning to their communities upon release from prison has caused Federal, State, and local governmental institutions to begin to reformulate their approach to prisoner reentry. Reentry programs primarily have concentrated their efforts in the provision of services relating to employment, housing, mental and physical health issues, and substance addiction. However, the data suggests that consistent access to legal assistance does not fall within the full array of services provided by reentry initiatives. The failure to include legal services in reentry projects may be an omission that fundamentally undermines the effectiveness of existing reentry models. This paper examines the data from major reentry initiatives to determine whether the legal needs of formerly incarcerated individuals are being met. Table, notes, and references