Cross-Cutting Strategies

Reforming incarceration and reentry systems will require bold, informed, and steady leadership across multiple systems and the creative use of new and existing resources.

 

Cross-Cutting Strategies

Reforming incarceration and reentry systems will require bold, informed, and steady leadership across multiple systems and the creative use of new and existing resources.

Leading local, state and national incarceration and reentry systems is difficult, and made even more challenging by funding constraints, often conflicting regulations, lack of a common language across systems, different and sometimes conflicting outcome measures, few natural opportunities to collaborate, and leadership and staff transitions that sometimes make it difficult to sustain partnerships.

Likewise, leaders need to be able to work across multiple incarceration and reentry systems, including building cross-systems data capacity. Jurisdictional and agency turf issues and real and perceived silos pose practical and cultural challenges to collaboration. Courageous leadership is needed to embrace deep(er) collaborations and to seek support from their peers and thought leaders to lead their systems through the challenges inherent in any large-scale change process.

Moreover, identifying new financial capital will remain a persistent challenge as state and local governments struggle to meet existing needs. Leading the human and other social capital resources necessary to facilitate successful reentry will challenge incarceration and reentry system leaders in new ways as they seek to steward these resources while the needs and expectations of their systems continue to increase.

Furthermore, reducing stigma around justice-system involved individuals and persons who work with them is essential to creating supportive environments during and after incarceration. In addition to supporting the development of positive attitudes regarding those involved in the system, Reentry Ready Project stakeholders propose the following strategies to help them meet the leadership and financing challenges ahead.

Support development of high-performing leaders and teams in incarceration and reentry systems

  • Change attitudes, culture and perceptions of systems leaders, humanize the affected population and show that the model can succeed.
    For elected officials to feel safe prioritizing reentry and engaging strategies that are collaborative across systems, attitudes concerning the value proposition of working to optimize outcomes for returning residents needs to be emphasized. Leaders must be able to see the potential benefits of shifting their focus to and approach regarding reducing recidivism rates.

Strategy in Practice: Council on State Government’s Face-to-Face Initiative challenges all elected officials to participate in a public activity through which they can interact with formerly or currently incarcerated people, corrections officers, victims of crime, and others who have firsthand experience with the criminal justice system.

  • Emphasize the managerial elements of change. While elected officials might be primarily concerned with big picture aspects of the system, such as cost-saving measures and moral leadership, those tasked with carrying out the functional and bureaucratic aspects of the system must contend with less heady material. We anticipate that senior level officials in criminal justice related agencies will be concerned with the metrics for measuring success and the threshold percentage of alignment required for success. It is necessary to change the metrics/accountability standards that people are measured against to change behavior.
  • Establish the moral case against the present system. Is any person beyond redemption? Is any life dispensable? Unfortunately, the American justice system operates as if the answer to both questions is “yes,” and not just in rare circumstances. Lives are destroyed or tossed away with shocking regularity by the American criminal justice system; and this happens disproportionately in communities of color45. This pattern is not only costly and worthy of little positive value. The casual and haphazard at best, malicious and purposeful at worst, deprivation of freedom and subsequent refusal to support effective reentry for returning residents is inherently unjust. Communities are expressing a desire for change at the ballot box46 and stoking that momentum by highlighting the nation’s moral imperatives is a valuable use of our collective energy.

Strategy in Practice: The State of Connecticut is investing in several efforts to reimagine incarceration for young men aged 18–25 by teaching them life skills, providing mentoring and other social support to help the young men develop into successful adults and community members.


Strategy in Practice: The VERA Institute’s Reimagining Prison Project offers a harsh rebuke of incarceration as we know it today. By calling for an acknowledgement of the nation’s brutal history of dehumanization and racial oppression and how it has shaped what we do today in our justice system, the Vera Institute demands reform. Their groundbreaking webumentary offers vivid images of the past and offers hope for the future of incarceration grounded in an acknowledgement of the humanity of all incarcerated individuals. Other thought leaders in criminal justice such as Bryan Stevenson, Ava Duvernay, and Michelle Alexander echo Vera’s call for a reevaluation of incarceration and cite growing public will and political capital that can be brought to bear by formerly incarcerated individuals, their families and communities.

Increase financing for reentry collaboration and systems integration

  • Change sentencing and supervision decisions to ensure that only individuals who pose significant public safety risks are incarcerated; reduce the number of incarcerated individuals; and commit to reinvest some of the savings in reentry systems collaboration and integration. In the last three decades, the cost to states for incarceration in the United States has increased almost five-fold, escalating from $12 billion in 1988 to $58 billion in 2016.47 Through the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) model, data drives the reduction of spending on corrections and the subsequent expenditure of saved funds on proven strategies to protect communities.48

Strategy in Practice: Since 2010, thirty-five states49 that have used the JRI model have saved over $1.1 billion while investing in treatment and supervision in communities.50 In Oregon, the prison population grew by almost 50% between 2002 and 2012, with an increase of almost 5,000 individuals incarcerated. Governor Kitzhaber worked to expand the state’s Commission on Public Safety and in 2013 the state’s legislature passed a bill that aims to reform the state’s approach to criminal justice called the Justice Reinvestment Act. Employing principles established in the JRI model, Oregon has seen positive results, including projected savings to the state of over $250 million.51

  • Create integrated case management systems with lead agencies, quality standards for activities and results, and performance-based payments (whether capitated or fee-for-service) to drive reentry success. It is legally stipulated that a person is entitled to adequate medical care while incarcerated.52 Incarceration is often used as a more expensive and less humane alternative to care for those with behavioral health challenges.53, 54 An integrated case management system that consolidates financing for a criminal justice system involved person has the potential to increase the efficiency of funding utilization as well as improve the results of care provided.

Strategy in Practice: In Ohio, CareSource, a healthcare company that provides public health care programs, has partnered with the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services in the state to facilitate the effective operation of the Community Transition Program (CTP). The program is an effort to aid in continued treatment for those recently released from incarceration with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC). By managing services for those returning individuals enrolled in CTP, CareSource serves a critical role in case management focused on successful reentry.

  • Overcome the persistent “wrong pockets” problem 55 for people involved in the criminal justice system. The “wrong pockets” problem describes a scenario where a local or state agency, other than the department of corrections and rehabilitation, is asked to provide funding to support programs and services for individuals during incarceration. For example, local and state education agencies funding to expand educational services inside correctional facilities while not receiving the “credit” for any of the improved outcomes for individuals during incarceration. Enabling states and localities more autonomy and incentivizing their collaboration may begin to solve some of this challenge.
  • Ensure that individuals have: a) financial resources from earnings during incarceration (at fair wages); b) the eligibility documents they will need to access reentry resources (health care, job training, etc.); and c) financial literacy. A serious hindrance to effective reentry concerns the poverty of funds and associated resources that returning residents often face upon completion of a sentence of incarceration. Without necessary resources it becomes more likely that an individual will become involved with the criminal justice system again. By addressing this issue with the safeguarding of an incarcerated person’s financial and resource stability, through ensuring that her or his Medicaid benefits are automatically reinstated upon release, for example, negative consequences may be limited.
“Gaining common understanding among stakeholders on what needs to be done to improve the continuum of services and interventions for the incarcerated who are nearing or recently released, as well as understanding what CAN be done has been incredibly valuable. While the proposed interventions are good ideas, most are impossible without significant restructuring and adequate resources. This report offers a guide that local practitioners, like those in my home state of Louisiana, can follow and achieve positive results.”
Rhett Covington, Assistant Secretary, Louisiana Department of public safety & Corrections 

Cross-Systems Metrics for Reentry Success

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Convergence Center for Policy Resolution is a national non-profit based in Washington, DC that convenes individuals and organizations with divergent views to build trust, identify solutions, and form alliances for action on issues of critical public concern. Reports and recommendations issued under our auspices reflect the views of the individuals and organizations who put the ideas forward. Convergence itself remains neutral and does not endorse or take positions on recommendations of its stakeholders.

Convergence Center for Policy Resolution
1133 19th Street NW, Suite 410
Washington, DC | 20036
202 830 2310

www.convergencepolicy.org

Convergence Center for Policy Resolution is a national non-profit based in Washington, DC that convenes individuals and organizations with divergent views to build trust, identify solutions, and form alliances for action on issues of critical public concern. Reports and recommendations issued under our auspices reflect the views of the individuals and organizations who put the ideas forward. Convergence itself remains neutral and does not endorse or take positions on recommendations of its stakeholders.

Convergence Center for Policy Resolution
1133 19th Street NW, Suite 410
Washington, DC | 20036
202 830 2310

www.convergencepolicy.org