This article reports on the main findings of an NIJ-funded evaluation of the implementation of reentry programs for released offenders funded under grants authorized in the Second Chance Act (SCA) enacted by Congress in 2008.
The evaluation of 10 State and local governments from around the Nation, which first received SCA funding, determined that reentry programs are moving toward a rehabilitative philosophy and an acceptance of evidence-based practices. The evaluation noted three major system changes in the implementation of SCA programs. First, partnerships are growing. Because State and local agencies and nonprofit organizations often lack the capacity to deliver reentry services by themselves, partnerships are being formed that have increased the resources needed to deliver quality reentry services. Coordination among probation and parole agencies and service providers has significantly improved. Second, services for offenders released from jail and prison have become more "holistic." This means there is greater continuity of services from pre-release to post-release; staff members are better prepared to work with offenders; assessments are being used well for planning services; there is more time for case management; and more reentry services are available. Third, there is a cultural shift in the reentry mindset. Evaluators observed a change in long-standing cynicism and skepticism that case managers are overcoming through better communication, planning, and training. With the aid of SCA funding, these institutional challenges can be overcome as corrections agencies begin to focus less on compliance and monitoring and more on a holistic, rehabilitative philosophy that identifies each offender's needs in the course of making changes in behaviors, attitudes, and commitment to benefit from the services being offered. The design for the upcoming outcome evaluation is described, with the expectation that it will be completed by the fall of 2014. 11 notes