Understanding the Challenges of Prisoner Reentry

Amy L. Solomon, Christy Visher, Nancy G. La Vigne, and  Jenny Osborne

March 2006

The four-fold increase in incarceration rates in America over the past 25 years has had far reaching consequences. In 2003 alone, more than 656,000 state and federal prisoners returned to communities across the country, affecting public safety, public health, economic and community well-being, and family networks. The impact of prisoner reentry is further compounded by the returning jail population with its unique set of challenges and opportunities. In 2000, the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute launched an ongoing investment in prisoner reentry research to better understand the pathways of successful reintegration, the social and fiscal costs of current policies, and the impacts of incarceration and reentry on individuals, families, and communities. Over the past six years, the Urban Institute's reentry research portfolio has informed a broad set of policy and practice discussions about the challenges facing former prisoners. The Institute's research includes a range of studies, from rigorous program evaluations to strategic planning partnerships with state and local jurisdictions. This document, "Understanding the Challenges of Prisoner Reentry: Research Findings from the Urban Institute's Prisoner Reentry Portfolio" provides an overview of some of the key dimensions of prisoner reentry and highlights the Urban Institute's original research across these topics. In addition, it points to recent and relevant reports published by the Urban Institute that provide more in-depth research and related findings.

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