Friday, March 19, 2010

Reentry Court Evaluation

Our research department has just released their evaluation of the Harlem Reentry Court and the findings are starting to reverberate on the Internet. (See this for example.) I think this study makes a significant contribution to the field -- the federal government has chosen to make a deep investment in reentry and there have been precious few evaluations of reentry courts to date. The findings are provocative. On the one hand, they show a significant decrease in re-convictions among participants in the reentry court, which suggests that the program has helped to reduce re-offending. On the other hand, the study documents increased revocations among participants in the Reentry Court compared to "regular" parolees. The researchers think that this is the result of what is known as a "supervision effect" -- basically, projects like the Reentry Court supervise participants more closely and are thus more likely to detect technical infractions that might be missed by conventional supervision. Going forward, we need to work with our partners at Parole to think through how to deal with this reality, likely by creating a broader range of sanctions short of revocation.