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Families and Reentry: Unpacking How Social Support Matters

NCJ Number
Jocelyn Fontaine; Douglas Gilchrist-Scott; Megan Denver; Shelli B. Rossman
Date Published
June 2012
58 pages
This report from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority presents the results of an evaluation of the Safer Return program implemented in the Garfield Park community in Chicago, IL.
The Safer Return program is a prisoner reentry program that provides a range of prisoner reentry services to recently released offenders. The core of the program is based on a family-inclusive case management model that uses a three -pronged approach: addressing key individual and family needs, introducing system reforms, and improving local conditions that present barriers to success. Information for the evaluation was gathered from a number of sources: surveys of formerly incarcerated persons' family members for individuals released to the program and those in a comparison group; administrative and programmatic data; focus groups with program participants and those from the comparison group; and focus groups with family members of program participants and those in the comparison group. Focus group results indicate that engaging families was difficult from the perspective of case managers being asked to do their job differently with finite resources; some ex-offenders found it difficult to engage their family members in the reentry process; and some family members were unable to or did not want to participate in the ex-offender's reentry program directly. Using these findings, the researchers tested whether the intended goals of the family-inclusive case management services led to better rates of reentry for ex-offenders. The most critical finding from this analysis was that service providers found it difficult to engage family members in the reentry process directly. The analysis also found that while families appeared to provide a great deal of support, it was the level of closeness or attachment to the ex-offender that appeared to play a significant role in the reentry success of the offender. Suggestions for future research are discussed. Tables, references, appendixes