In Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, during 2010 and 2011, criminal justice and human services stakeholders partnered to launch two reentry programs under the Bureau of Justice Assistance's Second Chance Act. The second of these programs, Allegheny County Jail-Based Reentry Case Management Program (Reentry 2), was established in 2011 and sought to reduce recidivism by connecting inmates to designated Reentry Probation Officers prior to release, to help ease their transition from jail into the community (Willison, Bieler, and Kim 2014).
The program served medium- to high-risk offenders who were returning to the community after jail. An inmate’s risk was determined through the Proxy Triage Risk screener, which assessed an inmate’s risk of reoffending through three factors: current age, age at first arrest, and number of prior offenses. These inmates were not in the Allegheny County Jail Reentry Specialist Program (Reentry 1) program because they either could not be served by the program or because they did not meet the Reentry Specialist Program’s minimum sentence-length requirement (Willison, Bieler, and Kim 2014).
Program Components/Key Personnel
The program comprised five Reentry Probation Officers (RPOs) who worked with inmates on pre-release reentry planning and continued to supervise them in the community following their release. Participation in the program was part of the offender’s supervision orders and therefore mandatory for all program participants.
The program included both pre-release and post-release core components. Pre-release components involved a risk/needs assessment, reentry and transition planning, and in-jail programming. Inmates were assessed by the RPO using the Level of Service Inventory-Revised (LSI-R). Results of the assessment were used to generate the inmate’s Offender Supervision Plan (OSP). The OSP included referrals to in-jail services, which were submitted to the jail’s Reentry Center so that inmates could have access to services and receive priority placement in these services.
The RPOs met with the inmates to track their progress and develop their transition plans. The transition plans focused on housing and employment plans following release. Additionally, the plans covered the reporting requirements to ensure that the inmates knew the schedule and location of their probation meetings. In the last meeting prior to release, the RPO ensured that the inmate’s housing arrangements were confirmed and that the housing was suitable for the inmate’s transition process.
The post-release components of the program included supervision by the RPO and access to services through Adult Probation’s Day Reporting Centers (DRCs). The DRCs functioned as the main service hub for clients who would receive services and programming through the center.
Willison, Bieler, and Kim (2014) found no significant differences between participants in the Allegheny County Jail-Based Reentry Case Management Program and the comparison group in terms of probation violations; program participants had a slightly larger percentage of probation violations than the comparison group (42 percent versus 36 percent, respectively), although the difference was not significant.
Probability of Rearrest
Although the authors found that program participants had a lower probability of rearrest than the comparison group, this finding was not statistically significant.
To investigate the effect of the Allegheny County Jail-Based Reentry Case Management Program (Reentry 2), Willison, Bieler, and Kim (2014) used a quasi-experimental design, assessing the program’s impact on recidivism. Data (such as demographics, criminal offending risk scores, and criminal history) was drawn from Allegheny County administrative database. To conduct their analysis, the researchers drew a sample of more than 100,000 offenders who had been sentenced to the Allegheny County Jail between 2008 and 2012. From this sample, 250 were identified as program participants.
Propensity score matching was conducted to create a balance between the treatment group (participants in the reentry program) and the comparison group. The matching variables included race, gender, citizenship status, marital status, origin of driver’s license, age, the number of prior arrests, and the inmate’s Proxy Triage Risk Screener score. If an individual’s matching score was too high or too low to correspond to another’s inmate’s score, the inmate was removed from the sample. Following propensity score matching, there were 220 program participants and 220 matched comparison inmates.
The treatment group was 85 percent male, had a mean age of 30, and was 58 percent black and 42 percent white. In addition, 80 percent of the participants were single. Approximately 5 percent of the treatment group was considered low risk, 46 percent considered medium risk, and 49 percent considered high risk. The comparison group was similar on baseline characteristics. The comparison group was 83 percent male; had an average age of 29; and was 57 percent black, 41 percent white, and 2 percent other. Additionally, 79 percent of the comparison group was single. Of this group, 6 percent was considered low risk, 47 percent considered medium risk, and 47 percent considered high risk.
Logistic regression and Kaplan-Meier survival curves were used to analyze the impact of the program on probation violations and the probability of rearrest during the first 1,000 days after release from jail.
There is no cost information available for this program.
Willison, Bieler, and Kim (2014) conducted a fidelity assessment to measure whether the Allegheny County Jail-Based Reentry Case Management Program (Reentry 2) was implemented as designed. The assessment included a case file review of 45 cases. The assessment found that the program was targeting the intended population (medium- to high-risk inmates), that pre-release services were provided as intended, that post-release contacts were made according to the program’s design, and that participants used the services in the community. It is important to note that the researchers found a minor discrepancy in the assessment of inmates’ criminogenic risk/needs. Although the Level of Service Inventory-Revised (LSI-R) assessment found that 95 percent of the cases were medium- to high-risk inmates (5 percent low risk), the Proxy found that 78 percent of the inmates were medium-to-high risk and 22 percent were low risk. Given that these scales typically align, such a finding stresses the importance of regular review of the LSI-R and Proxy results, as well as staff training on the LSI-R.
Willison, Bieler, and Kim (2014) also found that the program aligned with core correctional practices. However, they were unable to easily measure actual service use and dosage. As a result, the researchers stressed the importance of using mechanisms that allow for the monitoring of dosage. This would ensure that service dosage aligned with the recommended amount to ensure recidivism reduction as outlined in the literature (i.e., 300 hours for high-risk individuals, 200 for moderate-to-high risk individuals, and 100 for moderate-risk individuals).
Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)