Department of Justice Study finds reentry programs help reduce re-arrests

The U.S. Department of Justice recently released a study that analyzed data collected over a four-year period from 11 adult and four juvenile reentry programs around the country.  Researches set out to answer the questions:  “what works, for whom, for how long and at what cost?”

The study found evidence that reentry programs were associated with longer times between arrests and fewer arrests after release. However, other intended results such as a lower re-incarceration rate or greater access to housing and employment were not observed.

The study was a new analysis of previously collected data on 1,618 adult males, 348 adult females, and 337 juvenile males. It was updated with current arrest records. The data was based on interviews conducted 30 days before release from incarceration and then three, nine and 15 months after release.

Researchers found reentry programs contributed to a 14% reduction in arrests for adult men, a 48% reduction for adult women and a 25% reduction for juveniles. They calculated a $3,567 reduction in arrest-related costs for adult males in the study over the follow-up period, which ranged from 24 to 56 months.

Beneficial effects in reducing recidivism were seen from three individual change services: changing attitudes toward criminal behavior; anger management and personal relationships; and having a reentry plan, which researchers considered a practical service. Generally, individual change services had the most beneficial effect for males, adult or juvenile. Women seemed to respond better to practical services, specifically life skills and case management.

Re-incarceration rates were less encouraging across the study group. For male offenders, there was a reduction in length of time of re-incarceration, but not necessarily fewer incarcerations. For female offenders in the study, the results were mixed and not statistically significant. The percentage of offenders who reported committing a crime after release from prison increased over time, as did drug use.

The study’s authors conclude that more research is needed to see which services work and in what combination with the understanding that some services can actually be harmful if delivered in the wrong way. They say longer follow up periods will also be valuable since more significant outcomes were observed over time. It is also important to note that quality of service was not measured.

GEO Care and BI Incorporated work with agencies to provide reentry services for parolees and probationers nationwide. In partnership with correctional agencies, BI has noted similar positive outcomes in reducing recidivism and reintegrating offenders into communities through day reporting services that include a behavior change plan.

Read the full report.