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Overview of Offender Reentry

Date Published
June 7, 2013

In 2011, 688,384 men and women — approximately 1,885 individuals a day — were released from state or federal custody.[1] According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 4.8 million offenders were under community supervision by the end of 2011.[2]

Returning to the community from jail or prison is a complex transition for most offenders, as well as for their families and communities. Upon reentering society, former offenders are likely to struggle with substance abuse, lack of adequate education and job skills, limited housing options, and mental health issues.

Congress recognized the importance of this issue by passing the Second Chance Act of 2007 (SCA). SCA provides federal grants for programs and services that work to reduce recidivism and improve offender outcomes. Federal grants are also provided to support research and evaluation on a variety of aspects related to offender reentry.

NIJ's Reentry Research Portfolio

Offender reentry, the transition from life in jail or prison to life in the community, can have profound implications for public safety. NIJ continues to support research and evaluation of reentry-related issues, such as statewide reentry initiatives and research that examines the process of reentering society within the context of the community, neighborhood and family into which the former offenders return.

Given the number of individuals under criminal justice supervision in the community, offender reentry continues to garner considerable attention from researchers and practitioners alike. Much of this attention has been paid to more traditional approaches to reentry programming — for example, job training and substance abuse programs. In recent years, several federal initiatives, including SCA and the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative (SVORI), have redirected research attention to coordinated approaches for offenders returning to communities.

Date Created: August 12, 2019