Building Second Chances: Tools for Local Reentry Coalitions

PARTS 1 & 2

This toolkit is designed for local city, county, and community leaders who want to play an active role in improving reentry policy, practice, and outcomes. Within, you will find user-friendly references to seminal publications, research findings, and noteworthy examples of the foundational knowledge needed to design new reentry strategies and reinvigorate existing ones.

Establish or reinvigorate a local reentry coalition Icon of pdf document

Establishing or reinvigorating a formal reentry coalition is crucial for encouraging, leading, and implementing the changes that are necessary to address the wide range of local reentry needs. But managing multisystem, collaborative initiatives is a challenge for many local communities. This section will help you see who should be at the table and how to structure your coalitions.

The information and resources in this section include:

The list below offers examples of the kinds of people and organizations that might be a good fit for your reentry coalition:

Sample Reentry Coalition Members
  • Advocacy and faith-based organizations
  • Behavioral health care providers
  • Chamber of commerce members
  • Community-based reentry providers
  • Department of health representatives
  • Department of social services representatives
  • Housing service providers
  • Jail administrators
  • Judges or court administrators
  • Local businesses and employers
  • Local defense attorneys and prosecutors
  • Local law enforcement
  • Local mental health authority
  • Local philanthropic foundations
  • Local workforce board members, workforce development service providers
  • Medical providers
  • People who have gone through the reentry process or family of incarcerated people
  • People who are survivors of crime or advocates
  • Probation, parole, and/or community supervision leadership
  • State department of corrections representatives

Below are a sampling of mission statements from existing local coalitions that are supporting their communities’ reentry efforts:

Austin/Travis County, Texas sealAustin/Travis County, Texas
The mission of the Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable is to be a robust collaborative that promotes safe and healthy communities through effective reentry and reintegration of formerly incarcerated persons and individuals with criminal histories. [3]
Contra Costa County, California sealContra Costa, California
The Contra Costa Reentry and Rehabilitation Collaborative’s primary mission is to engage individuals, families, and communities in supporting formerly incarcerated individuals to become active and impactful members of their communities. [4]
Palm Beach County, Florida sealPalm Beach County, Florida
The mission of the local reentry coalition is to increase public safety, reduce victimization and recidivism rates, and create an improved quality of life for Palm Beach County residents. [5]
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania sealPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
The Philadelphia Reentry Coalition collaborates, coordinates, commits, and communicates to create opportunities for successful reentry using evidence-based practices to reduce—and eventually eliminate—recidivism. [6]

The following are some Questions to Consider as you work to establish, structure, and strengthen your local reentry coalition:

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Questions to Consider
Icon of three people inside a circle with star above middle person Does your local reentry coalition have the authority and commitment to lead reentry efforts?
To influence the systems involved in reentry, coalition members should be decision makers or experts within their agencies or organizations. Ideally, they should be prepared to actively and regularly engage in coalition meetings, and they ultimately should be invested in considering how their agency can shift policy or practice to improve reentry outcomes.
Icon of group of three people inside a cirlce Does your coalition have the members it needs?
The local reentry coalition should represent the key agencies, organizations, and members of the public involved in reentry in your community. If you are reinvigorating an existing reentry coalition, consider engaging new members who may not have been part of previous efforts or who can offer a different perspective that is not already represented in the group.
Icon of a structure of two points descending from a single point all inside a circle Does your coalition have a defined structure?
Beyond having an agreed-upon mission, vision, or guiding principles, your local reentry coalition needs established roles, responsibilities, meeting times, and decision-making protocols. Any group that includes multiple, differing perspectives—as a reentry coalition should do—likely will encounter conflict and differences in opinion. Establish a process to navigate these differences.

The Example from the Field below demonstrates how one locality established their local reentry coalition:

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Example from the Field

Building a Collaborative Steering Committee

In 2015, Palm Beach County, Florida became one of two sites in the country to pilot an innovative approach to reducing recidivism and increasing the employability of people returning to the community from prison and jail. Driving the county’s initiative was a steering committee led by the Palm Beach County Public Safety Department (PSD) in partnership with the county’s sheriff’s office, workforce development board, and community-based reentry service providers; the Florida Department of Corrections; and other agencies at the city, county, and state levels.

Find out how (PDF) the steering committee helped advance the pilot project's work.

The Quick References in this section provide detailed guidance on systemic reentry reform and supports:

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Quick References

Transition from Prison to Community: Reentry Handbook (2008)
The Transition from Prison to Community model is a framework to encourage systemic reentry reform—planned and implemented by a collaborative policy team drawn from law enforcement, corrections and community supervision agencies, paroling authorities, public human services agencies, community-based service providers, and others. See chapter 4 for information on forming teams to support reentry planning.

Transition from Jail to Community: Implementation Toolkit (2013)
This module-based online resource provides detailed guidance for communities seeking to support people leaving jail and improve public safety and reentry outcomes. See module 2 to learn more about cultivating strong leadership, a guiding vision, and organizational culture.