reentry strategies for jail systems

Assessment of reentry services for people leaving the L.A. County Jail by Vera institute.

Jail and prison reentry services are designed to help people who are released into the community and are associated with lower rates of repeat criminal activity and reincarnation as well as improved public safety. However, providing reentry programs in corrections settings is challenging—particularly in jails, where stays are typically short and turnover is high. In 2010, with support from The California Endowment, the Vera Institute of Justice partnered with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and community-based organizations to assess reentry services for people leaving the L.A. County Jail. Vera researchers examined existing services, analyzed their strengths and weaknesses, and recommended changes that could increase the efficacy of interventions. Click here to read the full report.

Partnering with Jails to Improve Reentry

Jesse Jannetta, with partners at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Alternative Solutions, Inc., co-authored this guidebook to help community-based organizations (CBOs) develop and sustain reentry partnerships with their local jails. The guidebook includes a brief overview of jails in the United States; a discussion of how CBOs can build productive partnerships with local jails and potential challenges CBOs face in doing so; examples of strong partnerships between CBOs and jails that serve as models; and an appendix of reentry resources and example documents. Click here for a PDF document that details these strategies.

The Transition from Jail to Community (TJC) initiative

TJC involves the development, implementation, and evaluation of a model for jail to community transition. The TJC model is not a discrete program; it is a new way of doing business that entails systems change and the development of collaborative relationships between jail and community partners. The goal of the TJC model is to improve public safety and reintegration outcomes. The TJC approach is being implemented in six jurisdictions and technical assistance products will be created for communities across the country. Click here for the PDF

Life After Lockup: Improving Reentry from Jail to the Community

Each year, U.S. jails process an estimated 12 million admissions and releases. Substance addiction, job and housing instability, mental illness, and a host of health problems are part of the day-to-day realities for a significant share of this population. Given that more than 80 percent of inmates are incarcerated for less than one month, jails have little time or capacity to address these deep-rooted and often overlapping issues. Life After Lockup synthesizes key findings from the Jail Reentry Roundtable and examines opportunities on the jail-to-community continuum where reentry-focused interventions can make a difference.Click here for the PDF

The Jail Administrator’s Toolkit for Reentry

Geared toward jail practitioners who are working to improve reentry in their jurisdictions, The Jail Administrator’s Toolkit for Reentry provides key elements of the reentry process from jail staff issues and assessment screens to identifying community resources and coordinating stakeholders. The Toolkit also offers examples and materials taken from around the country to assist jail practitioners in developing reentry strategies that can serve a variety of jail populations, whether pretrial or sentenced, and in a variety of jail jurisdictions.Click here for the PDF.

Urban Institute–Jails and Reentry

A search form on the Urban Institute using the query subject “jail” and the results: Click here to view

The Elected Official’s Toolkit for Jail Reentry

Nine million individuals are released from local jails each year, many struggling with mental illness, homelessness, and substance abuse. Jail reentry initiatives work to address these needs, thereby reducing both recidivism and criminal justice costs. The Elected Official’s Toolkit for Jail Reentry provides information and resources for local elected officials interested in launching or expanding a jail reentry initiative. The Toolkit includes an overview of jail reentry, first steps for developing a context-appropriate jail reentry initiative, essential facts and data to engage stakeholders, sample legislation, profiles of elected officials who have championed jail reentry, and a guide to additional resources. Click here to visit the webpage.

Justice Center Law Enforcement Toolkit

Law enforcement professionals across the United States face a similar problem: significant numbers of people return from prisons and jails back to a small number of neighborhoods that are already hit hard by crime and poverty. These individuals don’t always succeed; recent research by the Pew Center on the States shows that more than four in ten returning prisoners will commit new crimes or violate the terms of their supervision within three years of their release.

In response, an increasing number of law enforcement leaders are looking to start or join existing reentry initiatives as part of a comprehensive effort to prevent re-offending and victimization. By building on the partnerships forged during decades of community policing successes, law enforcement agencies are finding themselves uniquely positioned to engage in reentry initiatives that could contribute to enhancing community safety in neighborhoods.

In 2008, the Council of State Governments Justice Center provided detailed guidance on how law enforcement leaders can partner with corrections and social service agencies in Planning and Assessing a Law Enforcement Reentry Strategy. Since its release, numerous jurisdictions—including Cleveland, Indianapolis, Boston, and Los Angeles—have used the toolkit to help increase public safety by helping smooth the transition into the community for recently released individuals.

Law enforcement agencies can contribute to a successful reentry program in several different ways. They can help by

  1. Enhancing surveillance of recently released high-risk individuals;

  2. Contributing to incentives and supports for complying with conditions of release;

  3. Working with the community in preparing for people returning to vulnerable neighborhoods;

  4. Focusing law enforcement efforts and resources on particular places and situations;

  5. Exchanging information and intelligence with public safety agencies partnering on a reentry initiative, as well as with community partners;

  6. Connecting returning individuals to services, when appropriate; and by

  7. Assisting victims of crime.

Through these activities, law enforcement agencies can strengthen their relationships with community leaders and service providers, while improving the ways they share information with other organizations. The reentry initiative isn’t the only beneficiary; the law enforcement agency’s crime prevention and public safety efforts—including its gang, domestic violence, and other departmental units—can see marked improvements as a result of partnering with corrections and social service agencies and focusing on people returning from prison and jail.

To learn more about the ways enforcement agencies can contribute to successful reentry initiatives, download Planning and Assessing a Law Enforcement Reentry Strategy, which is available free of charge by clicking here.

Massachusetts’s Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral’s rehabilitation efforts for county jails

Sheriff Cabral is responsible for the operation of the House of Correction, the Suffolk County Jail and the Civil Process Division. The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department is the largest sheriff’s department in the Commonwealth and the 30th largest in the United States. It has over 1,000 employees, including executive managers, corrections officers, investigators, educators, health care providers, caseworkers and administrative staff, whose primary responsibility is to provide safe care, custody, control and rehabilitative su> Andrea J. Cabral, J.D. was sworn in on November 29, 2002 as the 30th Sheriff in the history of Suffolk County. She is the first female in the Commonwealth’s history to hold the position. She was appointed to the position in 2002 by former Governor Jane Swift and elected to a full term in 2004. She brings an extensive legal background and a commitment to public safety to her position. Her management of rehabilitation programs within her jails are worthy of close study and consideration. To view a pdf file of her courses and programs available to those in Suffolk County custody, click here.