Coordinated Responses to Reentry and a Continuum of Care

The discovery of so many evidence-based practices that are successful in reducing recidivism and increasing community safety led to concerns about how best to deliver what works in a coordinated manner that enhances overall outcomes. Research consistently shows that most ex-offenders fail within the first 90 days of reentry due primarily to technical violations, and an estimated 67% will fail within 3 years. Attempting to address the multiple needs of offenders through different service providers and across large bureaucratic systems (criminal justice, social services, public health, education, labor) often results in a fractured response to managing ex-offender’s risks and needs. Not surprisingly, offenders are oftentimes overwhelmed trying to navigate multiple systems to access services and to abide by competing sets of expectations. In addition, actions taken within one system oftentimes inadvertently sabotage the work being provided by those in another system serving the same client.

During the 1990s, researchers, practitioners, and policy makers developed reentry initiatives that relied on evidence-based practices coordinated across providers and embedded within a continuum of care. These initiatives were designed to address the high-risk period immediately following release, to bridge the gap between prison and community corrections services, and to coordinate across institutions (criminal justice, social services, and public health) in order to provide wraparound services to address both risk and need. As Taxman and Bouffard state, “By each organization focusing on the overall process and not simply on its own goals and responsibilities, services can be implemented in a manner that maximizes their overall efficiency and effectiveness.” They propose that integrated service models must become “boundaryless organizations” that share goals and develop mutually beneficial practices at key decision points that are common for both criminal justice and treatment agencies 

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