This article provides an overview of reentry, focusing on NIJ’s contributions to the field and identifying gaps in our collective empirical knowledge. It starts by discussing what is known about common barriers to successful reentry and describing federal efforts to help state and local agencies address those barriers. It then highlights NIJ’s efforts to advance sophisticated risk assessment algorithms and introduces NIJ’s evaluations of graduated sanctioning programs. This article concludes with a discussion of NIJ’s ongoing research evaluating local reentry programming.
More than two million Americans are incarcerated in local jails and state and federal prisons. Another 4.36 million are under criminal justice supervision in the community. As individuals serve their sentences and are released from custody, the majority will return to their communities, families, and friends. Reentry is a critical transition for individuals returning to their communities, and how long the reentry process lasts can vary from person to person. Over the past several decades, NIJ has been a leader in the study of reentry. This article provides an overview of reentry, focusing on NIJ’s contribution to the field and identifying gaps in our collective empirical knowledge of what works and what matters to the reentry process.