Helping jail prisoners reenter the community is essential to curb recidivism.
“There is a clear need for greater emphasis on jail reentry because of the sheer volume of the jail population and the importance of addressing their needs,” concluded a report on crime and delinquency by SAGE Publications.
The report, “Exploring Inmate Reentry in a Local Jail Setting: Implications for Outreach, Service Use and Recidivism,” focused on a reentry program developed 10 years ago in New York City as a successful example of civic investment in improving participants’ lives and lower recidivism.
“It functions as an in-reach, outreach program in which the New York City Department of Corrections pays for up to 90 days of post-release services,” the report said.
Civic administrators have long been reluctant to invest in reentry programs because of the many failed attempts in the past.
In 2004, the City of New York ended this debate by creating a discharge mandate for reentry participation, which required comprehensive pre- and post-release services to inmates of Rikers Island. The Rikers Island Discharge Enhancement (RIDE) program begins by motivating Rikers inmates through videos, literature, posters, billboards and persistent reminders from the jail staff. After release, RIDE links former inmates with appropriate health and human service organizations in the community in order to provide a continuum of care during a 90-day reentry process.
The history of reentry programs shows that inmates need a tremendous amount of pre- and post-release support to get positive results. K. Coughlin, deputy commissioner of discharge planning for NYC, said on July 5, 2007, that “program-weary and program-wary” inmates were disappointed by numerous social service systems.
But ultimately, reentry researchers found that inmates who completed a full 90 days of post-release services had far better results than those who received fewer than 90 days of post-release service or those who did not participate at all.
Since then, a number of jurisdictions across the country have started to implement programs similar to the RIDE program.