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The Reentry Challenge
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by Jim Cosby, Director, National Institute of Corrections  

National Reentry Week is April 24-30, 2016

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“America is the land of second chances,” George W. Bush once said. The difference between making that statement and ensuring that people have the opportunity for second chances is what reentry is all about.

It is no secret that the United States has the largest prison population and the second highest per capita incarceration rate in the world. An important effort in reducing that population is ensuring that individuals who are released to the community do not return to incarceration. This means investing in programs and policies that promote successful reentry and reduce recidivism.

To encourage this important work, the U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch named April 24-30, 2016, as National Reentry Week. There will be many reentry related activities during this week that will help increase visibility of this important topic and hopefully raise public awareness.

Thanks to pioneers who emphasized an evidence-based approach to corrections, the nation now has systems and models that support smoother, more productive transitions from incarceration to the community. In 2001, the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) developed the Transition from Prison to Community (TPC) model to give prisons a replicable structure for creating and sustaining reentry programs.

Today, there are numerous iterations of reentry programs that serve the needs of the half-million plus men and women who exit correctional facilities each year. From the 8 states that piloted the TPC model more than a decade ago, there are now hundreds of programs throughout the country. At the heart of this success is the dedication of thousands of correctional practitioners who were serious about making a difference. The other key ingredient was research, applying the science of what we know to enhance and support the factors that contribute to a person’s likelihood to succeed in the world.

The success of the TPC model also inspired later adaptations for jails through the development of the Transition from Jail to Community (TJC) model. Similarly, from the combined work of TPC and TJC, NIC refined reentry models to meet the needs of vulnerable populations, like justice-involved veterans; provide skill building opportunities to staff, such as employment retention specialist training; and match reentering men and women with much-needed resources, such as ongoing medical treatment through provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

As part of our on-going efforts to support hard-working corrections professionals, NIC in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Prisons hosted its first Reentry Symposium in September of 2015. This multi-agency group had the opportunity to hear from their peers about promising programs and projects focused on reentry from across the country. In the fall of 2016, NIC will hold the first meeting of the Reentry Network which will draw from the lessons learned at the Symposium and will provide additional resources and information to further this important work.

When people find themselves incarcerated, sometimes the shock and disappointment of having been sentenced is enough to keep them from committing another crime. Yet without the support we provide through reentry programming, even those people who would want a second chance couldn’t have one. Reentry is the means by which we are providing new opportunities for people, and that is why, in the land of second chances, our work must continue.

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This and other articles can be found in the NIC Information Center Dispatch. Feel free to forward to friends and colleagues.  Subscribe to the Dispatch at http://nicic.gov/go/subscribe.




Posted Fri, Apr 22 2016 8:00 AM by Elizabeth

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This blog is funded by a contract from the National Institute of Corrections, U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view or opinions stated in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.