The Multi-site Evaluation of the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative

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Urban Institute

This is an evaluation of the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative (SVORI), which since 2003 has funded 69 agencies throughout the nation to help improve criminal justice, employment, education, health and housing incomes for newly released prisoners.

Participants were high-risk offenders – male and female adults and juvenile males – with histories of criminal behavior and substance abuse, and minimal education and employment skills.

Researchers found that while there was an increase in the variety and number of adult SVORI programs, fewer individuals were receiving these critical services than needed them. Specifically, the programs were unable to provide sufficient support during the time immediately after prison release, which is considered a high-risk period. Similarly, large numbers of juvenile males said they needed help, but only a small number received it.

Adult participants received more programming when compared with non-SVORI program adults, but even those services declined after release. Juveniles were found to have received more services than the adults.

The evaluation found moderately better outcomes in housing, employment, substance use and self-reported criminal behavior for SVORI adults than non-SVORI while SVORI juveniles were more likely than nonparticipants to be back in school three months after their release. In addition, juvenile respondents were also more likely to have a job with benefits 15 months after their release.

The report concludes that programs must try to evaluate the levels of services needed to sustain a healthy re-entry for offenders and offers several questions on evaluations to help guide policy efforts.

Free, 175 pages.