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Smoothing the Path from Prison to Home

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2005
168 pages
This report presents highlights from a roundtable discussion with expert researchers and practitioners to examine the negative evaluation outcome results among participants of Project Greenlight, a prison-based reentry demonstration project conducted at the Queensboro Correctional Facility in New York by the Vera Institute of Justice from 2002 to 2003.

Several possible programmatic explanations were identified as to why an evaluation of Project Greenlight, a prison-based reentry project at the Queensboro Correctional Facility in New York, resulted in participants’ recidivating at higher rates than a comparison group after 1-year post-release. The possible explanations consisted of program design and implementation and the impact of the program on parolee expectations. However, there was not enough information to explain the results definitively. Caution was raised into the desirability of intensive short-term reentry programming. As a result of this evaluative outcome and to better understand the results, a roundtable of expert researchers and practitioners was convened by the Vera Institute of Justice, supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice to determine why the program produced such negative and unanticipated results. Three significant concerns were identified, via the roundtable discussion as having factored into the Greenlight participants’ higher rate of re-arrest: the program’s design and implementation may have lacked sufficient cultural sensitivity, especially in terms of race; Greenlight participants may have perceived some injustice in being assigned to the program, leading to low levels of commitment; and participants’ heightened expectations may have been unmet upon release, thereby leading to unanticipated negative outcome behaviors. Several lessons were identified by the roundtable participants that included: (1) best practices should be adapted to be culturally competent and race-specific; (2) prerelease programs require more than 2 months time; (3) participants need continuous support and some single institution must be accountable for the transition process; (4) community-based service providers must be reliably able to meet released individuals’ basic needs; and (5) there is a continuing need for research to better understand what works. Appendixes A-D

Date Published: December 1, 2005