Improve Reentry After Incarceration

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Introductory Paragraph

This objective focuses specifically on improving the transition back into society for people with an SUD who have spent time incarcerated.  People who are returning to society are at a high risk to overdose and die because their tolerance to opioids is lower and taking the amount of opioids they have previously taken can lead to overdose and death. There are many steps that should be taken to help people move foreward with successful recovery rather than returning to using opioids and the higher chance of overdose.

  • More than 50 percent of graduates of many prison treatment programs relapse within 12 months.[1]
  • Upon release from jail or prison, many people with mental or substance use disorders continue to lack access to services and, too often, become enmeshed in a cycle of costly justice system involvement[2]
  • An estimated 10-15 percent of the total state and federal prison population, approximately 200,000 people, are estimated to currently or historically have struggled with opioid dependence or abuse.[3]
  • Of incarcerated adults and juveniles with mental disorders, 60 to 75 percent have co-occurring substance abuse difficulties.[4]

Key Information

Individuals with mental and substance use disorders involved with the criminal justice system can face many obstacles after incarceration while reintegrating into society. These obstacles may include challenges with access to health care, relative job skills, education, housing instability, and a lack of connection within the community. The lack of support and obstacles could increase hardships with recovery and facilitate an increased relapse with SUD putting them back into the criminal justice systems.[5]

Reentry from incarceration to communities requires collaboration between correctional institutions, human services agencies and communities to provide substance use and mental health services as well as to enhance education, employment and health care services.[6]

Potential Benefits

Economic Benefits of People Remaining Substance-Free and Crime-Free after Re-entry

A CASA Columbia report focused on 1996 to 2006 and "found that only 11% of all inmates with addiction received any treatment during their incarceration. The report found that if all inmates who needed treatment and aftercare received such services, the nation would break even in a year if just over 10% remained substance-free, crime-free and employed. Thereafter, for each former inmate who remained substance-free, crime-free and employed, the nation would reap an economic benefit of $90,953 per year."[7]

Relevant Research

Rehabilitation Programs for Adult Offenders[8]-Rehabilitation programs typically use treatment methods that are based on behavioral and social learning theories of change.[9]

Sustaining Systems Change: Findings from a Transition from Jail to Community Initiative Stakeholder Survey[10] A report for from the Urban Institute, John Jay College, and the National Institute of Corrections (NIC).

Impactful Federal, State, and Local Policies

50-State Comparison: Limits on Use of Criminal Record in Employment, Licensing & Housing[11] Federal and State summaries with legal citations.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) Offender Reentry Program (ORP) grants[12]

FY 2022 Smart Reentry and Supervision: Grants, Tools, and Technical Assistance to Facilitate Change[13] A grant program from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) that provides grants and technical assistance to state- and local-level corrections agencies.

Available Tools and Resources

SAMHSA Re-Entry Resources A Guide for Individuals, Providers, Communities and States.[14]

Continuity of Offender Treatment for Substance Use Disorder from Institution to Community[15] This guide provides quick tips including guidance for substance use disorder treatment clinicians and case workers on how to assist offenders in the transition from the criminal justice system to life after release.

Working with Vocational Rehab Customers with Criminal Backgrounds[16]

What Works in Reentry Clearinghouse -What Works in Reentry Clearinghouse, a “one-stop shop” for research on the effectiveness of a wide variety of reentry programs and practices.[17]

Rehabilitation Programs for Adult Offenders: A Meta-Analysis in Support of Guidelines for Effective Practice[18]

The Bureau of Justice: Assistance Programs that Support Re-entry[19]

National Institute of Justice[20] Crime Solutions: Programs & Practices.

Webinar: FY21 Second Chance Act Adult Reentry Education, Employment, Treatment, and Recovery Program Funding Opportunity[21]The program supports corrections systems’ ability to address the substance use treatment needs of offenders as well as expand education and employment programs that emphasize partnerships with corrections, parole, probation, education, workforce development, and reentry service providers.

Building Second Chances: Tools for Local Reentry Coalitions[22]A toolkit for local city, county, and community leaders to provide a foundation to improve reentry policy and practice which impact overall outcomes.

TPC Reentry Handbook: Implementing the NIC Transition from Prison to the Community Model [23]A guide for improving reentry transition to community.

Promising Practices

Rhode Island Program to divert Individuals with Substance Use Disorders from Incarceration and into Treatment[24] Federal grant will help divert people dealing with addiction to treatment rather than jail.

Community Mediation Maryland Re-Entry Mediation[25]The Community Mediation Maryland Re-entry Mediation (CMM) program is focused on building strong community relationships to support reentry of inmates into the community after they are released from prison.

Offender Reentry Community Safety Program[26] Formerly called the Dangerous Mentally Ill Offender Program, this is a reentry-planning and service program aimed at reducing recidivism for dangerously mentally ill offenders in Washington State.

Transitional Case Management[27] a strengths-based, case management intervention that provided expanded case management services to inmates during their transition from incarceration to the community.

Alameda County (Calif.) Integrated Dual Disorders Treatment Program[28] A post-custody, community-based intervention for individuals with co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders.

Project Greenlight[29] An institution-based transitional services demonstration program, designed to be a short, intensive intervention, which could provide a greater number of individuals with reentry services at a lower cost.


  1. [1]Inciardi, J. A., MartIn, S. S., & ButzIn, C. A. (2004). Five-Year Outcomes of Therapeutic Community Treatment of Drug-Involved Offenders after Release from Prison. Crime & Delinquency, 50(1), 88–107.
  2. [2]The Revolving Door of American’s Prisons.(2011). State of Recidivism, Retrieved December 5, 2019, from
  3. [3]Mumola, C. J., & Karberg, J. C. (2006). Drug Use and Dependence, State and Federal Prisoners, 2004: (560272006-001) [Data set].
  7. Substance Abuse & America’s Prison Population 2010 | Center on Addiction. (n.d.). Retrieved December 5, 2019, from