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Lessons Learned: Planning and Assessing a Law Enforcement Reentry Strategy
By Council of State Governments Justice Center
Published: 05/06/2013

Accused Law enforcement officers across the country report that they repeatedly encounter and arrest the same individuals in their jurisdictions. In many areas, recidivism rates remain stubbornly high—with more than 60 percent of individuals leaving prison reincarcerated within a few years after their release. Although many police agencies already have the building blocks to help make prisoner reentry safer and more successful, law enforcement professionals often lack the practical guidance to implement a comprehensive and effective initiative.

The Council of State Governments Justice Center (CSG Justice Center) joined with the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) on a national project to learn in detail how agencies create a reentry strategy or enhance an existing effort. The project team selected four “learning sites” to receive technical assistance from national experts. In addition to receiving assistance, the sites would in turn inform project staff and other jurisdictions about elements of reentry for which they found solutions to common challenges. The lessons learned from that work and subsequent information- gathering efforts formed the foundation for this report.

The four law enforcement agencies selected as learning sites—the Las Vegas (Nevada) Metropolitan Police Department, Metropolitan (District of Columbia) Police Department, Muskegon County (Michigan) Sheriff’s Department, and White Plains (New York) Police Department—each had reentry strategies that addressed key aspects of a successful reentry program. The project also benefitted from the work conducted on a previously published guide the Justice Center developed in partnership with the COPS Office and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) for law enforcement professionals and reentry partners. Planning and Assessing a Law Enforcement Reentry Strategy was crafted to serve as a starting point for police officials to direct and assess progress on reentry.[1] That guide helped agencies identify areas of weakness or issues that created implementation challenges. The learning sites project was launched to take agencies to the next level by providing detailed recommendations for overcoming some of these commonly experienced obstacles to program implementation.

The rich information gleaned from practitioners’ experiences at the learning sites (and beyond) is summarized in this report. The major challenges the agencies face can be grouped into three categories: collaboration, program terms, and data collection and analysis. In an effort to address these, this report provides information on the following recommendations, grounded in advice from law enforcement professionals and their partners on the front lines of reentry.

This report was prepared by the Council of State Governments Justice Center. It was completed under Cooperative Agreement 2007–CK–WX–K018 awarded by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice.

Click here for the full 60 page report

1. This report is available as a free download at: reentrypolicy.org/jc_publications/LE_toolkit_final; file and on the COPS website at: cops.usdoj.gov/RIC/ResourceDetail. aspx?RID=461


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