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Prisoner Reentry and Community Policing: Strategies for Enhancing Public Safety

NCJ Number
Nancy G. La Vigne; Amy L. Solomon; Karen A. Beckman; Kelly Dedel
Date Published
March 2006
85 pages
This report examines the links between prisoner reentry and community policing, and how new strategies can improve and enhance public safety.
Background information for this report indicates that over the past two decades, there has been a significant increase in the number of prisoners incarcerated and then released back into communities that are often crime-ridden and lacking in services and support systems for the offenders. In addition, a smaller number of prisoners receive educational programming and substance abuse treatment than in the past, despite the significant increase in correctional spending. This lack of programming presents unique challenges for offenders attempting to lead productive, law-abiding lives on the outside, as well as posing a distinct threat to public safety. The information in this report is based on discussions and papers generated from the Reentry Roundtable, developed by the Urban Institute and the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, which invited practitioners, policymakers, academics, and service providers to examine the issues surrounding prisoner reentry from a community policing perspective. The report is divided into five sections that explore the links between prisoner reentry and community policy in terms of improving and enhancing public safety. The first section of the report describes the local context of reentry, its effect on communities, and its impact on community safety and public perceptions of crime, while the next section examines the role of police in reentry. The third section of the report presents specific examples from the field of how new police roles in prisoner reentry have been put into practice across the country. The fourth section of the report includes a discussion of the potential organizational and community-level challenges to expanding law enforcement's role in reentry and suggested strategies for overcoming these obstacles, while the last section concludes with a discussion of opportunities for advancing police reentry initiatives from both a practical and a policy perspective. Figures, sidebars, and references