Community and Family Support

Engaging Families in Reentry
Research on reentry outcomes finds that nurture, support, and attachment to family members help to facilitate a successful return to the community and reduce recidivism. However, criminal justice and community-based agencies encounter many barriers to engaging family members. Furthermore, fatherhood programs in particular often struggle with demonstrating the impact of their services from the perspective of the returning fathers as well as their children and co-parents. This webinar discusses these challenges and reviews innovative strategies and approaches to measuring the outcomes of family-focused programming in reentry.

Reentry Matters: Second Chance Act 10th Anniversary Edition
The National Reentry Resource Center and the CSG Justice Center released a new edition of Reentry Matters: Strategies and Successes of Second Chance Act Grantees Featuring 21 stories from programs across 19 states, Reentry Matters profiles the impact of SCA grant-funded programs through both the practitioners who run them and the people who are impacted by them.

Bilchik, Shay, et al. Family Engagement in Reentry for Justice-Involved Youth. New York: National Reentry Resource Center, 2010.

Four presentations regarding the need for families to be involved in the reentry process for released youth are contained in this document. The presentations include: the Family Justice Program—defining family broadly, strength-based approach, impact of family and other social support on reentry outcomes, youth voices, juvenile corrections staff survey, probation and correctional leaders survey, and youth genograms; a family-focused approach to juvenile corrections—California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation Division of Juvenile Justice; engaging families in the community—Adolescent Portable Therapy (APT); and a movement of change—national examples of integrating a family-focused, strength-based approach.

Brazzell, Diana, et al. From the Classroom to the Community: Exploring the Role of Education during Incarceration and Reentry. New York: City University of New York, John Jay College of Criminal Christian, Johnna, et al. [Bringing Families In: Recommendations of the Incarceration, Reentry and the Family Roundtables. Newark: New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, Rutgers University, 2006.]

Recommendations for “facilitating the connections between [New Jersey] prisoners and their families and in preparing both for the process of reentry” are given (p. 3). Central findings and recommendations are provided for Department of Correction (DOC), State Parole Board, Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Department of Children and Families, Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC), family members, incarcerated individuals, community based organizations, advocacy groups, universities/educational institutions, and Department of Education/schools. 

The Connections Project. Germantown, MD: National Fatherhood Initiative, 2011.

If your agency is looking for ways to reduce the recidivism of fathers returning to the community, this program might be for you. “The Connections Project is an initiative that focuses on the power of engaged fathers for successful reentry.” This website provides access to information about Connections, tools for practitioners, tools for fathers, the Connections Forum, success stories, and contact information.

Justice, Prison Reentry Institute, 2009.

This monograph examines the “current state of education during education and reentry and identifie[s] promising programmatic and policy directions” (p. 3). Parts contained in this publication include: introduction—education, reincarceration, and reentry; the current landscape of education during incarceration and reentry; research on the effectiveness of correctional education; education behind the walls—challenges and opportunities; from classroom to community—education and reentry.

Partnering With Jails to Improve Reentry: A Guidebook for Community-Based Programs.  Crayton, Anna, et al.

Organizations. Washington DC: Urban Institute, 2010. Anyone looking to create a partnership between a community-based organization (CBO) and a jail reentry program will find this publication very helpful. This guidebook is divided into these sections: introduction; understanding the big picture, incarceration and jail reentry; developing and sustaining a partnership with the local jail; working with the jail population and in the jail environment; examples of strong partnerships between CBOs and jails; resources for the field; and conclusion. Appendixes provide sample memoranda of understanding, sample release of information forms, and partnership profiles.

Engaging Fathers for Successful Reentry: Research, Tips, Best Practices. Germantown, MD: National Fatherhood Initiative, 2011.

A selection of fact sheets “connect the dots between eight of the most significant reentry challenges and the need to engage incarcerated and reentering fathers in becoming better dads” (p. 3). This report covers housing, employment, marriage and relationships, substance abuse, mentoring and community support, child support, involving moms, and domestic violence.

Hairston, Creasie Finney, et al. Coming Home from Prison: Family Matters. London, OH: Institute for Excellence in Justice, 2008.

Access to keynote remarks, comments, Q and A, presentations, and handouts from a seminar on the impact of families on community reentry are available at this website. “Families as sources of support, conflict and domestic violence, parent-child relationships, and parole practices and expectations are among the topics covered” (p. 1).

Leverentz, Andrea M. People, Places, and Things: The Social Process of Reentry for Female Ex-Offenders. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, 2006.

The process of and factors that impact the reentry of female ex-offenders are investigated. Chapters following an abstract are: issues in female offending and reentry; methodology; origins of offending; intimate relationships and desistance — family; romantic relationships and friends; education and employment; housing and neighborhood; and the social context of reentry.

Pettway, Coretta. Best Practices Tool-Kit: Family Involvement during Incarceration and Reentry. London, OH: Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, 2008.

Aims to identify empirical evidence regarding strategies, programs and practices geared toward family involvement during incarceration and reentry. Topics include family of the incarcerated, families and reentry, maintaining and facilitating familial involvement, and exemplary programs. 

Ready4Reentry Prisoner Reentry Toolkit for Faith-Based and Community Organizations. Washington, DC: Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, 2008.

A promising practices guide for small to medium sized faith-based and community organizations interested in starting or bolstering reentry efforts. Nine sections are contained in this publication: launching a reentry organization; designing an effective program structure; forming successful partnerships; recruiting clients and volunteers; crafting intensive case management; removing barriers to employment through supportive services; implementing effectual employment preparation; succeeding at job placement; mentoring adult ex-prisoners; monitoring program success; and conclusion.

Close to Home: Building on Family Support for People Leaving Jail. Vera Institute of Justice, Family Justice Program.

This report describes the Family Justice Program’s Close to Home project, which implemented the Relational Inquiry Tool (RIT)—a series of questions originally designed for and tested in prisons to stimulate incarcerated people’s thinking about supportive family members as a resource—in three jails in Maryland and Wisconsin. The report also discusses the results from qualitative and quantitative research at the three facilities, aimed at gauging the attitudes of jail staff, incarcerated men and women, and family members toward the RIT.

Prisoner Reentry: Addressing the Challenges in Weed and Seed Communities. Urban Institute, Justice Policy Center.

The ways in which Weed and Seed sites provide offender reentry programs and partner with local organizations is surveyed. Sections of this report cover: Weed and Seed involvement in prisoner reentry; target populations for reentry programs; reentry programs and strategies; program size; expected outcomes; partner organizations in Weed and Seed reentry efforts; the Weed and Seed/VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) Reentry Initiative; innovative practices involving housing, employment, family, and community; barriers to reentry programming; technical assistance needs; experienced Weed and Seed sites are a resource; and looking forward.

Straight-Up: (Expanding) Mentoring of Current and Formerly Incarcerated Adults: Key Components of Successful Relationship-Building to Support Positive Change. National Coalition of Community-Based Correctional and Community Re-Entry Service Organizations.

“This paper contributes to identifying the determinants and characteristics of successful mentoring in the corrections and re-entry context. This analysis has application for formal mentors as well as for other front-line correctional staff and volunteers who seek effective interaction skills when engaging with current and formerly incarcerated individuals” (p. 3). Findings cover: mentoring as a support for positive post-prison outcomes; the context for mentoring relationships within corrections and reentry; the role of the mentorship-style of leadership; what mentoring is; the degree to which mentoring is effective; who is most likely to benefit from mentoring; identifying and selecting individuals for mentor guidance; demographics and mentoring; the relationships between a mentor and offender; and how to mentor.

They’re Coming Back: An Action Plan for Successful Reintegration of Offenders that Works for Everyone.

Strategies for implementing effective reintegration programs and interventions are provided. Following an executive summary, findings and recommendations are organized into five topic areas: personal empowerment, responsibility, and reconciliation; pre-release; legal; employment, education, and training; and community integration.

Prisoners Once Removed: The Impact of Incarceration and Reentry on Children, Families, and Communities.

The impact of incarceration upon the prisoners themselves, the relationships between parents and children, and service networks is explored. Chapters in this book include: “The Children and Families of Prisoners”, “The Psychological Impact of Incarceration”, “A Woman’s Journey Home”, and “The Skill Sets and Health Care Needs of Released Offenders”.

Call to Action: How Programs in Three Cities Responded to the Prisoner Reentry Crisis.

“This report is the story of how programs in three cities responded to the reentry crisis, before they became part of the Ready4Work initiative” (p. 2). Chapters comprising this publication include: introduction — getting out; Jacksonville (FL), Memphis (TN), Washington, DC case study, and elements of a successful reentry program.

Cleveland Stakeholders’ Perceptions of Prisoner Reentry.

This policy brief presents findings from interviews with stakeholders. Topics discussed include: barriers affecting successful reentry — housing, employment, social services, community perception and public stigma, and personal barriers; solutions and suggested changes to policy and practice; the role of government agencies in addressing reentry; prison reentry in Ohio – an overview; finding from interviews with former prisoners; and City of Cleveland’s reentry strategy.

Reentry Partnerships: A Guide for States & Faith-Based and Community Organizations. 

Recommendations are given on how states “can improve reentry, reduce recidivism, and build or improve collaborations with community-based service providers” (p. 3). Goals and recommendations explain how to: build and sustain comprehensive networks with faith-based and community organizations; simplify pathways to funding for reentry initiatives; tailor responses to the population that will be served by a reentry initiative; and how to ensure accountability for efficient use of funds and gather critical data.