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WhitePaper-How Data Can Support Implementation of Good Practices for Reentry
Introduction: The state of reentry today
Every week, an average of 10,000 prisoners are released
from state and federal prisons. That’s an annual average
of 520,000 prisoners per year. Of these prisoners, the
recidivism rate is staggering. An estimated 67% of
prisoners will be rearrested within three years of release.
That percentage continues to grow as the years increase;
to 76.6%. As prison populations swell beyond capacity,
the problem of recidivism becomes even more critical.
In November of 2014, the California prison population
was 3,900 prisoners over the federally mandated
population cap. Even with a new cap in place, the state
will only reduce its population to 137.5% of its designed
capacity. The U.S. currently spends $80 billion annually
on incarceration. In California alone, the annual cost to
imprison an offender of a nonviolent crime is $62,396.
This is $2,000 more per year than California’s median
state income. The size of the prison population and the
costs associated with providing for this population are
no longer sustainable.
Many other states are in a similar situation. As federal
court orders begin to directly address the issues of
overpopulation, states have begun using recidivism
rates as a performance measure. The unsustainability
of mass incarceration and the activism of those most
impacted is pressuring reform and change at all levels.
As a result, there has been a significant cultural shift
away from the“tough-on-crime”approach of the past in
favor of rehabilitation to decrease prison populations.
Lawmakers are enacting new legislation, courts are
granted greater flexibility, law enforcement agencies are
• Average of 10,000 prisoners
are released each week
• Average of 520,000 prisoners
• Within 3 years, of release 67%
of prisoners will be rearrested
• Within 5 years of release, 77%
of prisoners will be rearrested
• U.S. currently spends
$80 billion annually on
“In California alone, the annual
cost to imprison an offender of a
nonviolent crime is $62,396.”
• California prison population
was 3,900 prisoners over the
• Annual cost to imprison
a nonviolent offender is
• Annual cost to imprison a
nonviolent offender is $2,000
more than the median state
California Prison Statistics
U.S. Prison Statistics
identifying the dangerous versus the vulnerable, science
powerful are exposing unfairness, and most importantly,
more states are implementing programs to reduce the
prison population and the significant costs associated
with it. In 2011, North Carolina enacted legislation that
focused on strengthening community supervision to
ensuring fidelity to evidence-based practices, the
creation of regional reentry councils, and implementing
graduated sanctions, North Carolina has since been
able to close nine correctional facilities.
In recent years, a lot of policy and research work has
been devoted to the positive effects of performance
measurement and performance management on the
recidivism rate. The reentry sphere is well-suited for
in-depth data analysis considering its clear desired
outcomes: reduced recidivism, increased public safety,
and community reintegration. Legislation such as the
Second Chance Act of 2008 and the Transition from Jail
to Community (TJC) Initiative have set the framework for
reentry programs to go beyond output data collection
towards managing program performance. The next step
must be to take those frameworks and put them into
Reentry programs and the need for data
At the national level, few federal funding streams from
Assistance (BJA) have set performance measurement
frameworks tied to specific federal funds. Unlike other
The California Department of
Corrections and Rehabilitation
(CDCR) use Efforts to
Outcomes software to
power their statewide
case management system
ARMS (Automated Reentry
“More and more states are
implementing programs to reduce
the prison population...”
federal programs in the fields of homeless services or
maternal infant health, reentry programs are often seen
as a local issue where program frameworks should be
shaped by local communities. National standards often
lack the framework needed to guide programs towards
success. At the local level, individual states, counties, and
even prisons have had to take the lead on using data to
make informed program decisions.
The first step towards using data in the reentry sphere
is identifying performance measures or indicators. The
performance measurement as, “Ongoing monitoring
and reporting of program accomplishments, particularly
progress towards pre-established goals.” Performance
measurement represents a movement from process
to outputs to outcomes. It is not enough to simply
monitor program successes, however; an organization
must interpret those successes to determine the true
outcomes of the program. Outcomes are measurable,
relatively enduring changes in program participants’
attitudes, emotions, knowledge, skills, behavior, or
social condition, which the program works intentionally
to achieve and holds itself accountable for. Outcomes
must be relevant to the needs of the target population.
Traditional performance measurement cannot tell us
whether or not a program caused a particular result or
outcome. The goal is to manage to those outcomes,
making changes to programs based on intended or
The federal measurements that do exist are primarily
outputs related to a prescribed set of common issues
that prisoners often face such as substance abuse,
mental health, employment, housing, family support,
“The first step towards using
data in the reentry sphere is
identifying performance measures
role in establishing evidence-based
research to determine and improve
the impact of offender programs
that will adapt and grow with
our agency and better support
— Millicent Tidwell,
Director of Division of Rehabilitative
Programs, California Department of
Corrections and Rehabilitation
and education. The guidelines associated with these
measurements are vague at best, from counting the
number of people in a program to the number of people
gaining employment post-release. To date, there is no
federal framework established to measure the quality
or outcomes of the programs, such as participant
Beyond performance measures, system-change
measures must be considered in order to make better
use of data for a reentry program. These measures
help determine whether the changes made to policies,
procedures, and program elements have been
implemented properly and are directly correlated
with participant success. These measures include case
management activities, targeted interventions, and the
use of risk/need assessments.
“The Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR) model is perhaps the
of offenders”(Blanchette & Brown, 2006; Ward, Mesler &
Yates, 2007). The RNR model is based on the notion that
different offenders require different types and levels of
service to reduce their risk of re-offending. While high-
risk offenders should receive a large number of intensive
services, offenders with a low-risk of recidivism may
actually be negatively impacted by receiving that many
services, and in turn more likely to re-offend.
Within the RNR model and other system-change
measures, program success depends on data availability
and accessibility. It is not enough to have a data system
in place; the system must be implemented with fidelity
and monitored over time. Performance indicators
and outcomes must be specified at the time of
“The RNR model is perhaps the
most influential model for the
assessment and treatment of
• Risk Principle: Match the level
of service to the offender’s risk
• Need Principle: Assess
criminogenic needs and target
them in treatment.
• Responsivity Principle:
Maximize the offender’s ability
to learn from a rehabilitative
intervention by providing
treatment and tailoring the
intervention to the learning
style, motivation, abilities, and
strengths of the offender.
implementation with a process in place for interpreting
results. The use of data requires user buy-in at the
staff and managerial level to insure data accuracy and
useful data interpretation. The following two sections
explain how data can be made useful, supporting good
implementation at the manager and staff levels.
Managers need to make sure services are delivered
effectively. For example:
Match risk/need level with service level. High-risk/
need offenders can benefit the most from intensive
services (Lowenkamp & Latessa, 2005, p. 7). However,
those who are low-risk typically do not benefit from
intensive services and may actually be harmed by
them. Many programs serve everyone the same,
regardless of risk level. Programs need several service
tracks to adequately match service level to risk/need
level. Reports on clients, their risk/need levels, and the
amount of services they have received in a date range
helps managers develop an overview to assess whether
the program is on track and where adjustments may be
required. Adjustments need to be made immediately
to prevent the adverse effects of mismatched risk/need
and service levels.
Take a team approach to reentry services. Higher
involvement by client, family, and professionals who
provide different types of services means better
coordination, better support, and higher likelihood of
success. An individual report shows the extent to which
all treatment team members have been present at
meetings, so attendance can be improved if necessary.
• Match risk/need level with
• Take a team approach to
• Assess progress toward
reintegration and self-
• Support for intentional work
• Access to real-time data
“The use of data requires user buy-
in at the staff and managerial level
to insure data accuracy and useful
Making Data Useful For:
“Performance management helps
ensure we provide consistent, high
quality services to our youth. ETO
software is easy to navigate and
efficient and helps us easily identify
service gaps. I don’t think we’d be
able to course correct as quickly as
we need to without ETO.”
— Kimberly Vollmer,
Social Services Manager,
Marion County PACE Center
Assess progress toward reintegration and self-
sufficiency. By measuring reintegration with the
transtheoretical model’s stages of change and self-
sufficiency with the Arizona Self-sufficiency Matrix,
these key outcomes and more are tracked uniformly
across clients. Aggregate reports on the extent to which
clients are making progress are available in real-time.
Frontline staff need support for intentional work toward
Access to real-time reports to determine if individuals
are receiving the right level of services given their risk/
need levels, and which ones are making progress toward
individual goals and outcomes so that adjustments can
be made if anything is off.
Support for intentional work. Performance
management software can be designed to support
intentional work toward outcomes. At every interaction,
the case manager can indicate on Likert scales:
• How the relationship is between case worker and
• What stage of change the client is at in terms of
reintegrating into the community
• Status of progress toward key, shared outcomes
(housing, employment, etc.)
At every interaction, the case worker can quickly see the
status of each of these areas in the past few meetings.
This provides a quick overview, helping organizations
target criminogenic behavior and other urgent needs.
“Frontline staff need support
for intentional work toward
• 91% of PACE participants
• 73% of PACE participants
advanced by one full grade
• 91% of girls had no
involvement with the criminal
justice system one year after
• 81% of girls were employed,
enrolled in college or
in another appropriate
educational setting six months
after completing PACE
PACE Center For Girls
Outcomes Data Using ETO
The case/treatment plan is always front and center
in a client’s electronic file, with the current status of
each goal clearly visible. At each interaction, the case
manager records progress toward each individual goal
being worked on. This is done through both notes
and the transtheoretical model’s “stages of change”
scale. Addressing each one, rather than writing about
all of them in one big case note, guarantees that no
information gets lost in the process.
It is also easy to go back and look at the notes and
stages of change, and assess retrospectively whether
interventions were tailored appropriately. This is
an excellent way for managers to support quality
improvement with individual staff members.
Access to real-time data. Access to real-time reporting
• A summary of risk and need levels, the type of
treatment, and the number of hours of treatment all
allow staff to be confident in the services they are
providing. Is the client receiving the right kind and
amount of services for their risk/need level?
• Progress in terms of relationship between case worker
and client. The ability to see a relationship over time
on a graph helps staff determine if they are on the
right track or not. A sound, trusting relationship is
fundamental to achieving outcomes.
• Progress toward individual goals and common/shared
outcomes. Communicate when things are going well
to encourage both client and staff. If not enough
progress has been made, staff are able to identify
“The ability to see a relationship
over time on a graph helps staff
determine if they are on the right
track or not.”
• Budgeting management
• Cognitive and life skills
• Domestic violence prevention
• Job readiness and skills search
• Parenting/Family integration
• Residential services
• Sexual offense management
• Substance abuse
• Transitional housing
Key Coordinated Service
the reasons why and take the appropriate actions to
At both the manager and staff levels, data should drive
a prescribed set of outcomes. Some common reentry
outcomes include increased family support, reductions
in health risks, substance abuse, mental illness,
attainment of housing, higher education, and improved
employment. The key outcomes associated with reentry
include reintegration into the community, reduced
recidivism, and improved public safety.
The software systems typically used within correctional
facilities focus on tracking inputs and indicators, such
as the number of people that enter the facility each
day or the number of meals served each week. What
correctional facilities often lack is case management or
outputs to outcomes, states are now beginning to look
for new ways to use data to measure the effectiveness
of reentry programs. ETO for Reentry focuses on
individualized case management to ensure recidivism
reduction, providing the most comprehensive solution
to achieve better outcomes and reentry successes at the
state, county, and local nonprofit level.
Taking reentry programs from outputs
Corrections and rehabilitation centers, as well as their
surrounding communities are spending time and
resources implementing reentry programming to help
individuals avoid returning to criminal activity once
their incarceration and supervision ends. Although
“What correctional facilities
often lack is case management or
outcome reporting capabilities.”
• California Department of
Corrections and Rehabilitation
• Catholic Charities: MD Reentry
• City of New Orleans Mayor’s
Office of Reentry
• Friends of Island Academy
(Riker’s Island NYC)
• Operation New Hope
• PACE Center for Girls
• San Mateo County Probation
• And many more!
*Public sector agencies are in bold
Reentry Organizations Using
there is an ongoing shift in corrections to focus more on
rehabilitative services and less on punishment, systems
typically are not in place to ensure their efforts are
making a difference.
Now more than ever, there is a need for reentry service
providers and their partners to track and evaluate client
progress and program performance. At both the state
and county levels, many institutions are implementing
these programs in different ways with varying levels
of priority and logistics. Due to a lack of oversight and
is being implemented correctly and whether or not
services are making a difference.
ETO for Reentry offers an out-of-the-box solution,
enabling reentry service providers to track the work
they do with participants during incarceration and in
the community after reintegration. This pre-configured
system allows service providers to have access to the
data they need in one secure place, helping work get
done efficiently and effectively. The system encourages
evidence-based practices based on the RNR model,
tracking risk assessment, treatment planning, and
coordination of services. Reports are available to show
if the expected progress is being made at the individual,
group, and program-wide level.
Social Solutions created ETO for Reentry to help
organizations keep track of all reentry services in one
place, and to ensure programs are being implemented
as designed by helping participants reach their goals.
Best practices are pre-configured to give organizations
a starting framework, but the system can also be easily
configured as programs change over time. Real-time
“Due to a lack of oversight and
system support, it is difficult to
determine if programming is being
The Urban Institute ROI
Evaluation Report for ETO
software user Maryland
Reentry Partnership Initiative
(REP) evaluated crime in
Baltimore between 2001
and 2005. It compared 229
REP clients to a similar set of
370 ex-offenders released in
REP clients committed fewer
new crimes, returning $3 in
benefits per $1 in new costs.
The total net benefit to the
citizens of Baltimore was $7.2
million, or $21,500 per REP
reports ensure program fidelity and provide insight into
what is and isn’t working at the program and staff level.
The collaborative framework of the system allows
data to be collected across multiple institutions and
community service providers. Funders and stakeholders
can gain insight on all reentry efforts provided by staff
inside the institution, as well as out in the community.
Data collection on the most important indicators is
standardized to guarantee programs are specific and
goal-driven. The participant dashboard shows real-time
data on participant progress. This helps inform decision-
making on the types of services, support, and referrals
needed to make sure participants are on track to job-
readiness and overall self-sufficiency.
ETO for Reentry includes an employer dashboard with
history of hiring individuals with criminal backgrounds
and staff interaction for more efficient employer
engagement and job referrals. Referrals can be made
in the system, and serve as a resource for participants
to see what is available to them. The system tracks and
reports on participant well-being, as well as recidivism
rates after program completion.
This is a great tool at the state, local, or nonprofit level,
helping organizations do more with their data and be
confident in their program’s efforts. Backed by research,
knowledge, and experience, it’s the perfect framework
to post-release employment and housing retention,
ETO for Reentry supports organizations as they work to
reduce recidivism and improve participant reintegration
into the community.
“Funders and stakeholders can
gain insight on all reentry efforts
provided by staff inside the
• Program improvement and
• Cross-provider of aggregate
• Uniform data collection
• Case management decision
• Employer engagement
• Automated Refferals
• Follow-up Module
The Value of ETO For
To learn more, please contact
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