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.

Pinpoint Opportunities for Improvement Icon of pdf document

Using your reentry map as the foundation of how reentry works in your community, this part of the toolkit will help you pinpoint opportunities for improvement. You’ll learn how to find decision points in your map, whittle down potential opportunities for improvement, and discover where your efforts will have the greatest impact.

The information and resources in this section include:

The sample reentry map structure (PDF) provides and example of the criminal justice decision points and systems of services you may experience in developing your reentry map:

Colored coded matrix of criminal justice decision points and systems of services

See Appendix A for templates to help you take stock of the data required to develop a comprehensive and useful reentry map.

The Questions to Consider below will help your coalition use your reentry map to make data-informed decisions about your reentry strategy:

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Questions to Consider
Icon of magnifying glass inside a circle Are you keeping your reentry map close at hand?
Without the basis of a reentry map, the efforts of your local reentry coalition’s efforts risk being driven by assumptions instead of analysis. Make the most of the work you did to develop the reentry map, consistently referring back to the map in order to make informed decisions. You may even add to the map over time as you learn more about reentry in your community.
Icon of a map with a location pinpoint inside a circle Have you developed standards to guide decisions about opportunities for improvement?
Defining standards to make decisions can help your local reentry coalition stick to agreed-upon principles and choose activities that are in the interest of the collective rather than individual members of the coalition. These standards might involve considering the level of support in the community, cost, alignment with your coalition’s mission statement, and the degree to which the decision can have an impact on recidivism, for example. Upcoming sections of this toolkit will help you further understand and narrow down your improvement opportunities.
Icon of a network surrounding a person all inside a circle Are you using a variety of mechanisms to engage the community in your reentry strategy?
Methods for starting conversations about reentry with the broader community include door-to-door outreach, listening sessions and tours, public forums, letters to newspaper editors, surveys, and distribution of educational materials such as fact sheets. These methods can achieve different goals; for example, fact sheets and letters to newspaper editors can be used to set a baseline understanding of reentry, whereas feedback gleaned through door-to-door outreach and surveys can be formally incorporated into your local reentry coalition’s strategic discussions. Culturally competent communication is especially important as your coalition reaches out externally. Establishing a baseline understanding of the disproportionate impact of crime and incarceration on communities of color, especially Black communities, is an essential component of culturally competent communication. Note that disadvantaged groups, including people who have been in prison or jail themselves, may have an inherent distrust of leadership structures, such as the ones represented by members of your coalition. It is important for your coalition to be aware of this potential distrust as a barrier to engagement for some community members. For more information on how your coalition can work with the community to achieve shared goals, see Section 3.

These Quick References provide detailed guidance on systemic reentry reform and supports:

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Quick References

All-America Conversations Toolkit [PDF] (2017)
Although not geared specifically toward reentry issues, this toolkit offers helpful tips for holding inclusive conversations to foster civic engagement in local communities.

Developing and Using Criteria and Processes to Set Priorities
Consult this section of the Community Toolbox for guidance on developing standards for decision making.