These strategies should focus on parolees' risks and need and conducted in a way that would motivate change. Aware of these realities, States continue to innovate and evolve reentry strategies towards this end (Yahner et al.).
The BRI was a particularly ambitious correctional program in that it targeted the most difficult offenders for rehabilitation and incorporation into the community. These are young offenders with violent criminal histories, who are likeliest to be excluded from reentry assistance. The BRI develops and implements individual plans to reintegrate chosen offenders back into society. This was the Controlling Violent Offenders Program.
Efforts begin during their incarceration and continue when they are released into the community through a focused approach by a mentor. Case workers and mentors conduct varied programs to support their transition. These include social services in substance abuse and mental health disorders and vocational services for training, education and resume development for employment (Braga et al.).
Results of this study provide evidence that BRI's holistic approach can reduce repeat crimes. Gang membership poses a special challenge to these initiatives. It inhibits the ability of a released prisoner to successfully reintegrate with society. It has been observed to increase the risks of post-release recidivism by limiting pro-social relationships, providing new opportunities for criminal peer interactions, and reducing the prisoners' chance at forming a pro-social identity after their release. (Braga et al.).
What Works, What Does Not and What is Promising
Using the Maryland Scale of Scientific Method, 32 reentry programs were grouped and evaluated (Seiter & Kadela, 2003). These programs were categorized into vocational training and work, drug rehabilitation, educational programs, sex or violent offender programs, halfway house programs, and prison prerelease programs. Results of the evaluation found the programs for vocational training and/or work release, drug rehabilitation, education, halfway house and pre-release programs produced varying positive effects. Vocational training and work release programs were found effective in reducing recidivism and enhancing job readiness skills. Drug rehabilitation programs reduced the likelihood of arrests among parolees and no-completers, of committing a drug-related offense or a parole violation or continue drug use. Educational programs raised educational achievement scores but did not reduce recidivism. Halfway house programs reduced the frequency and seriousness of crimes committed. Pre-release programs reduced recidivism rates. Some sex-and-violent offenses programs were considered promising (Seiter & Kadela).
The combined results of the evaluation of select offenders reentry programs showed inconsistent findings. The Second Chance Act reflected unclear indications of community integration by the offenders. The Controlled Violent Parolees Program's holistic approach suggested a reduction in the incidence of repeat crimes. The Returning Home Program sent feelers that a business-line atmosphere was discouraging to offenders' integration into the community. And the evaluation of 23 reentry programs reflected generally encouraging results: vocational training and employment reduced recidivism and enhanced readiness skills, at the same time. Drug rehabilitation reduced the likelihood of arrests. This set of evaluations provides appropriate directions to take for policymakers in determining what programs work and what do not.
These evaluated offender reentry programs may be considered representative of current efforts at addressing the problem of recidivism. Their results can thus be considered representative too of how current efforts stand so far. They provide the needed direction for policymakers on what further reforms to work on and push through. They arm policymakers with the basis for streamlining existing programs, filling up gaps and making them more responsive. In the race against the continuous increase in prison population, that responsiveness cannot be any less.
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