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Understanding the Challenges of Prisoner Reentry: Research Findings From the Urban Institute's Prisoner Reentry Portfolio

NCJ Number
Demelza Baer; Avinash Bhati; Lisa Brooks; Jennifer Castro; Nancy La Vigne; Kamala Mallik-Kane; Rebecca Naser; Jenny Osborne; Caterina Roman; John Roman; Shelli Rossman; Amy Solomon; Christy Visher; Laura Winterfield
Date Published
January 2006
26 pages
This document provides an overview of some of the key issues in prisoner reentry into the community addressed in the Urban Institute's research.
An important reentry issue addressed is employment. The Urban Institute explored the link between employment and successful prisoner reentry. In addition to identifying the many barriers to ex-offender employment, research has shown the importance of work-release jobs while in prison and of case-managed reentry and employment services. A second area of research is the health of returning prisoners. The prevalence of severe mental disorders and chronic and infectious diseases among prisoners is significantly greater than among the general population. Thus, securing continuity in medical care in the community, particularly when most prisoners have no medical insurance is a major concern. A third area of research has been housing for returning prisoners. Research has found that housing options for returning prisoners who do not stay with family members or friends is limited, and there are even fewer housing options for those with mental disorders. Another reentry challenge is the prevalence of substance abuse histories among prisoners. Those who do not receive substance abuse treatment in prison (most do not) and after release are at high risk for recidivism. Also researched has been the role of families in the experience of reentry. Recent research has found that strengthening the family network and maintaining supportive family contact can improve the outcome for both family members and prisoners. Other issues addressed in the Urban Institute's research are the characteristics of the communities to which most prisoners return, the risk to public safety posed by returning prisoners, the effectiveness of community supervision, and the importance of strategic partnerships and collaboration in addressing the challenges of prisoner reentry. A listing of the Urban Institute's research publications