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Transitioning Offenders to the Community: A Content Analysis of Reentry Guides

NCJ Number
Journal of Offender Rehabilitation Volume: 47 Issue: 4 Dated: 2008 Pages: 339-355
Jeff Mellow; Johnna Christian
Date Published
17 pages
This study assessed the content, readability, and interactive features of 13 reentry guides given to inmates after their release from prison.
The study found that the readability of the guides was above the reading level of the majority of former inmates. None of the guides scored at the “Fairly Easy” (fifth grade), “Easy” (fourth grade), or “Very Easy” (less than fourth grade) level. The majority of the guides personally addressed the inmates, but very few of the guides used illustrations (only four) to help the reader understand the content. Guides that personally address the reader; contain easy-to-understand illustrations, diagrams, or photos; and are not too lengthy help readers comprehend the material. Eighty-five pages was the median number for the guides analyzed. The content analysis found that none of the reentry guides contained an index that would facilitate locating subjects within the guide, and the table of contents of most guides was not sufficiently detailed for readers to locate some of the material within the guide. In addition, there was a lack of consistency and continuity of themes across the guides. All of the guides included the address and phone number for each community resource listed, and descriptions of services were presented in all but one of the guides; nine guides indicated the fees and hours of each agency. Only five of the guides provided the public transportation routes to the agencies. Further, a significant number of important topics for prisoners returning to society were not mentioned in some of the guides. Regarding the interactive nature of the guides, 8 of the 13 guides described specific problem solving strategies the reader could use when locating services, and 5 of the 13 guides provided space for the reader to record information. 3 tables and 27 references