Offender Reentry: Correctional Statistics, Reintegration into the Community, and Recidivism [June 3, 2013] [open pdf - 434KB]
"The prison population in the United States has been growing steadily for more than 30 years. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that since 2000 an average of 680,000 inmates have been released annually from state and federal prisons and almost 5 million ex-offenders are under some form of community-based supervision. Offender reentry can include all the activities and programming conducted to prepare ex-convicts to return safely to the community and to live as law-abiding citizens. Some ex-offenders, however, eventually end up back in prison. The most recent national-level recidivism study is 10 years old; this study showed that two-thirds of exoffenders released in 1994 came back into contact with the criminal justice system within three years of their release. Compared with the average American, ex-offenders are less educated, less likely to be gainfully employed, and more likely to have a history of mental illness or substance abuse--all of which have been shown to be incarceration risk factors. Three phases are associated with offender reentry programs: programs that take place during incarceration, which aim to prepare offenders for their eventual release; programs that take place during offenders' release period, which seek to connect ex-offenders with the various services they may require; and long-term programs that take place as ex-offenders permanently reintegrate into their communities, which attempt to provide offenders with support and supervision. There is a wide array of offender reentry program designs, and these programs can differ significantly in range, scope, and methodology. Researchers in the offender reentry field have suggested that the best programs begin during incarceration and extend throughout the release and reintegration process. Despite the relative lack of research in the field of offender reentry, an emerging 'what works' literature suggests that programs focusing on work training and placement, drug and mental health treatment, and housing assistance have proven to be effective."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34287