On March 31, 2021, President Joseph R. Biden proclaimed April as Second Chance Month. “By focusing on prevention, reentry, and social support, rather than incarceration, we can ensure that America is a land of second chances and opportunity for all people,” said the President.
To reduce recidivism and increase public safety, the Second Chance Act authorizes federal grants for reentry services—such as employment and housing assistance, substance use treatment, family programming, and mentoring—that ease individuals’ transition from detention or treatment back into their communities. In fiscal year 2020, the Office awarded $11.2 million in Second Chance Act funding.
OJJDP’s Second Chance Act: Addressing the Needs of Incarcerated Parents and Their Minor Children provides grants to support programs in correctional facilities that encourage family engagement between incarcerated parents and their minor children. It also funds reentry services for parents and programs that support the positive development of children with incarcerated parents. These grants strive to strengthen families and break generational cycles of justice involvement.
The Second Chance Act: Youth Offender Reentry program supports direct services for youth and sustained system improvement efforts, including the use of quality assurance and fidelity assessments, improved collaboration between juvenile justice agencies and community providers, and enhanced data collection. Programming-focused grantees offer youth educational, vocational, job placement, and mental and behavioral health services. They also offer youth access to positive people and activities. Other grantees focus on effecting lasting system improvements, such as maximizing the use of risk-needs-responsivity assessments, increasing family engagement in case planning, and providing better training and information to practitioners. While each grantee’s project is unique, all projects aim to improve youth’s access to proven programming prior to and following release from placement.
Grantees of the Youth Offender Reentry program have come up with creative ways to keep youth engaged in positive activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. To foster prosocial hobbies, a grantee in Boulder, CO, supplied youth with cameras and engaged a photographer to teach them how to use the cameras. The grantee also partnered with a local gym to teach youth to rock climb. Another grantee that serves gang-affiliated youth in Oakland, CA, organized a family game night and delivered meal kits and games to clients’ homes to encourage family bonding.
In conjunction with the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), OJJDP will cohost virtual events and highlight resources to aid successful reentry during Reentry Week, April 26–30. Webinars on topics such as employment, education, behavioral health, housing, youth and families, and evaluation will describe promising reentry practices and strategies to inform and inspire jurisdictions around the nation to undertake system improvement efforts. More information about these efforts and other Reentry Week activities is available on the National Reentry Resource Center website.
The BJA-funded National Reentry Resource Center provides information on evidence-based, data-driven strategies to reduce recidivism. OJJDP provides funding to American Institutes for Research for intensive, tailored technical assistance to Youth Offender Reentry program grantees, and to the Council of State Governments to support grant recipients under the Addressing the Needs of Incarcerated Parents and Their Minor Children program.
Dennis M. Mondoro Probation and Juvenile Justice System Enhancement Project Shows Promising Outcomes for Youth
Since 2018, the Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice has provided intensive training and technical assistance to six competitively selected jurisdictions across the nation.
The project’s goal is to improve community supervision policies and practices for youth with co-occurring substance abuse problems and mental health disorders who are placed on probation or are being released from secure placement.
John Tuell, the center’s executive director, reports that the sites are incorporating adolescent development into their policies and practices; adopting comprehensive trauma screening, assessment, and treatment protocols; and increasing their use of alternatives to formal involvement in the juvenile justice system.
Improved youth outcomes such as increased rates of desistance; early and successful completion of probation; and improved functioning in the behavioral health, education, and family domains, suggest that the project’s techniques could inform juvenile justice and community supervision practices nationwide, says Mr. Tuell.
OJJDP funds the Mondoro Project through the 2018 Second Chance Act: Ensuring Public Safety and Improving Outcomes for Youth in Confinement and While Under Community Supervision program.
For information about OJJDP’s Second Chance Act programs, read the Juvenile Reentry In Focus fact sheet. Visit the updated Juvenile Reentry and Community Supervision page to learn about additional resources OJJDP offers.
Reentry Starts Here: A Guide for Youth in Long-Term Juvenile Corrections and Treatment Programs helps youth set clear goals for reentry while still in placement. Topics include Building Your Reentry Team, Planning Ahead for School and Work, Using the Services Available to You, and Moving Beyond Your Experience in Placement.
Youth with juvenile records frequently experience collateral consequences of their arrest or adjudication. The bulletin Expunging Juvenile Records: Misconceptions, Collateral Consequences, and Emerging Practices discusses the most common misconceptions surrounding the expungement of juvenile records and highlights emerging practices to address the issue.