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Lessons Learned From the Second Chance Act: Moving Forward To Strengthen Offender Reentry

NCJ Number
Date Published
National Institute of Justice
This fact sheet summarizes what has been learned from two NIJ-funded evaluations of offender reentry programs established under grants authorized by the federal Second Chance Act (SCA), which aims to improve recidivism outcomes for people returning to their communities from prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities.
The SCA allows grantee sites to tailor their programs and services to the needs of participants in their local communities. Although this diversity among programs may facilitate a comparison of what works and what needs improvement, it can complicate the evaluation process. In addition, the evaluations assessed only the first subsample of adult offender reentry demonstration projects (14 sites). Future evaluations that access more data over a longer time period may provide a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of SCA reentry programs. The evaluations found that generally and with a few exceptions, participation in an SCA reentry program did not impact a range of reentry outcomes; for example, substance use and compliance with supervision conditions did not improve; however, participation in a SCA program increased participants’ access to and receipt of reentry services and programs for participants, and it improved partnerships between criminal justice and community-based agencies. Still, these benefits did not significantly reduce recidivism. This report recommends that rigorous evaluations of promising reentry programs continue in order to identify what works with which types of participants.
Date Created: May 31, 2018