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Reentry is the transition from incarceration – life in prison, jail, or juvenile justice facilities – to life in the community. Each year roughly 600,000 individuals return to our neighborhoods after serving time in federal or state prisons and 11.4 million people cycle through local jails. Nearly everyone who goes to jail and approximately 95 percent of persons in state or federal prison will eventually return home. Although returning to the community may be inevitable, successful reentry and reintegration are not. Recidivism studies reveal that two out of every three people released from state prison are rearrested for a new offense and about half return to prison within three years. When reentry fails, the social and economic costs are significant – higher crime, more victims, increased family distress, and greater strain on state and municipal budgets.
The effects of incarceration are felt far beyond prison walls and impact health. Racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented in the correctional system. In addition to pressing needs such as housing, employment, and educational opportunities, justice-involved individuals have disproportionately high rates of chronic health conditions, and mental health issues and substance use disorders are common. Poorer access to health coverage and health care pose significant challenges for this population, can contribute to a worsening of their health status, and are associated with higher rates of recidivism. The health sector, therefore, has an important role to play in supporting formerly incarcerated individuals to address their health needs. Access to health care and improved health status may also lead to improved opportunities for employment, housing, and family support. All Americans, including those who are formerly incarcerated and have paid their debt to society, should have the opportunity to reach their full potential for health.
The purpose of this webpage is to provide a consolidated location for available reentry resources for returning citizens and their families, HHS grantees, and other individuals/organizations working to help people leaving the criminal justice system.