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.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs more than 650,000 people are released from state and federal prisons annually. An even greater number is released from local jails. Research by the Bureau of Justice Statistics published in 2013, has shown that two-thirds of these offenders will be rearrested and many will be reincarcerated within three years of their release.
The number of offenders and the likelihood of their reincarceration have made reentry a priority for policy makers and criminal justice researchers and practitioners. Breaking the cycle of reoffending and re-incarceration has many important implications for public safety and policy.
Some recent reentry strategies employ comprehensive strategies focus on assessing offenders and tailoring reentry plans to individual offenders to enable them to become productive and law-abiding. Increasingly, reentry begins at the sentencing phase and continues post-release, with a particular focus on the continuity of care from prison to the community.
It often involves a variety of agencies and groups that coordinate efforts to ensure that offenders receive needed services and appropriate levels of supervision. For example, reentry courts are specialized courts that target offenders released from prison/jail and use the authority of the court to promote offender accountability. They provide tailored responses to offenders including graduated sanctions, varied levels of supervision, and incentives.