Specialized courts seeking to address the needs of formerly incarcerated individuals and reduce future criminal behavior differ in their approach and, as a result, in their effectiveness. Key processes setting the most successful of the seven Second Chance Act Adult Reentry Courts considered by this study apart from other sites include consistency and intensity of substance abuse treatment; wraparound services for criminogenic needs; intensive supervision; and increased use of judicial praise, sanctions, and incentives.
The study had four principal goals: describe the reentry courts; determine program effectiveness at reducing recidivism and improving individual outcomes; determine net program costs and financial benefits; and contribute to the development of a “true” reentry court model.
Results were mixed across sites. One site consistently demonstrated positive outcomes across measures. Two sites had neutral, trending toward positive, recidivism results. Two other sites had mixed results; two had consistently negative results. Cost findings were similarly mixed.
Data sources included a process evaluation with stakeholder interviews, program observations, and participant focus groups; interviews with reentry court participants and a matched comparison group; a recidivism impact evaluation; and a cost-benefit evaluation.