Academic journal article Federal Probation

Key Factors to Promote Successful Comprehensive Reentry Initiatives

Academic journal article Federal Probation

Key Factors to Promote Successful Comprehensive Reentry Initiatives

Article excerpt

COMMUNITY CORRECTIONS IS in the early stages of its renaissance. Reawakened from the late 1970s through the 1990s of "nothing works" and zero tolerance for violators, and driven by political consensus that mass incarceration is a failed criminal justice response, community corrections is on a path of rediscovery and new learning. Since then, reentry has replaced revocation as the word du jour, backed up with a host of new innovations in supervising and rehabilitating offenders to reduce recidivism (e.g., validated, actuarial risk assessment tools; cognitive treatment programs; motivational interviewing). However, even with all of these new best practices and evidence-based advances in community corrections, there is a recognition that long-term successful reintegration will only take place when there is a coordinated and collaborative effort by all stakeholders working with justiceinvolved individuals in the community.

More and more, these collaborative efforts take the form of comprehensive or multi-faceted reentry initiatives that focus on strategic system-level change (e.g., National Institute of Corrections' Transition from Prison to Community and Transition from Jail to Community; New York City Department of Probation's Neighborhood Opportunity Network initiative; Community Oriented Correctional Health Services Model; Department of Justice's Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative; and San Francisco's Juvenile Collaborative Reentry Unit).

Decision making about reentry policies, practices, and procedures is no longer the sole domain of criminal justice agencies, but now includes participation from a wide range of stakeholders. These include public, private, non-profit service providers, and support networks such as families, faith communities, and the communities where they live. Comprehensive reentry initiatives (CRIs) are perceived to have real value in developing a network of community-based organizations, public agencies, businesses, and community residents focused on connecting justice-involved individuals to opportunities, resources, and services.

True, community correctional agencies have always been charged with being the boundary spanners: "individuals who can facilitate communication across agencies and professions to coordinate policies and services" (Conly, 1999: 7). What has changed is the movement from coordinated services to a more comprehensive collaboration of community partners. Policy makers, theorists, and correctional managers are harking back to the days when the "community" in community corrections meant more than physically supervising in the community, but instead enlisting "the saving graces of the community itself" (Simon, 1993: 33).

Nowhere is this intrinsic belief in the healing nature of community more evident than in the community justice ideal. First articulated in 1998 by Clear and Karp, community justice has been variously described as a movement (Clear & Karp, 1998), a paradigm (McCold & Wachtel, 1998), a system (Maloney & Holcomb, 2001), a mission (Bazemore and Schiff, 2001) and a strategy and philosophy (Clear, Hamilton, & Cadora, 2011). Numerous practices have been included under the community justice mantle, including community policing, community courts, community benefit programs, and a variety of restorative and reparative initiatives. At the core of these community justice approaches is a reorientation from a sole focus on individual cases to the pursuit of community-level outcomes through greater community engagement and stronger institutional collaboration and partnership.

In this article we describe key features of CRIs, their goals, and critical implementation indicators identified from the literature and experience that must be considered to ensure the short- and long-term success of high-quality multifaceted reentry initiatives. The factors will provide a roadmap to policy makers, program and initiative developers, and practitioners when they consider the time, resources, and engagement levels to successfully implement a new reentry initiative. …

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