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.

Leverage existing resources to maximize impact Icon of pdf document

In this part of the toolkit, you’ll learn how to maximize the reach of existing resources to fill identified gaps and serve the reentry population as efficiently as possible. Using data that you already have collected on the size, demographics, risk level, and needs of your population, you’ll work on aligning existing resources with the needs of your reentry population and directing funding away from underutilized or ineffective programs or practices. 

The information and resources in this section include:

These Questions to Consider will help you direct resources to where they’re most needed:

Icon of question mark inside a circle
Questions to Consider
Circular icon of a list with an arrow moving the bottom item to the top Are you prioritizing resources for people assessed as high risk and high needs?
As discussed in Section 2, providing the most intensive programming and services for people with the greatest needs who are at a high risk of reoffending can have the biggest impact on reducing recidivism. Reviewing program and service eligibility policies and comparing them to actual data can help determine whether programs are serving people assessed as high risk and high needs.
Circular icon of one solid down arrow point to one dashed up arrow Have you compared the needs of your population with the resources available?
In Section 2, you were encouraged to complete a summary of the risk and needs of your target population. Comparing the needs of your population to the resources available in your community will give you a sense of the gaps in resources.
Circular icon of clipboard with check-marked paper attached Is funding of programs and services contingent upon their effectiveness?
Any public funding for programs and services should be contractually contingent upon their demonstrated effectiveness. Programs that do not improve outcomes ultimately should be discontinued or have their contracts canceled. Awarding future contracts and incentive payments can be useful ways to motivate organizations to use effective programs and practices.
Circular icon of central point with dollar sign connected to surrounding smaller points Are you maximizing available funding streams?
Your local reentry coalition should understand what federal, state, local, and private resources are available to support the reentry process in your community. To get the maximum value from each funding stream, it is best to follow a particular sequence that accounts for the relative flexibility of each funding stream. Both federal and state funding typically have strict requirements for how dollars can be spent. Use these and any other restrictive funding sources first to pay for programs and services that your reentry population needs, and reserve funding with more flexibility regarding what goods and services can be purchased to fill in remaining gaps.
Circular icon of flag-topped municipal building Are you using funds from multiple agencies where possible?
Combining funds from multiple agencies can support existing or new reentry efforts without depending entirely on one source to raise the total funds that are needed. While pooling funding, where possible, can help broaden the reach and impact of programs and services, it is important to consider each funding source’s specific goals, target populations, conditional requirements, and performance measures as you determine whether combining resources will work for a given program or service.

The Example from the Field below discusses how Lorain County, Ohio identified and addressed service gaps by reallocating existing funding.

Icon of lower-case i inside a circle
Example from the Field

Redirecting Funding to Needed Services

The Lorain County, Ohio, Sheriff’s Office leveraged state and county funds to address gaps in services for people released from jail without secure housing. The county had received a grant through the state’s Targeted Community Alternatives to Prison (T-CAP) program, which focused on diverting people convicted of low-level, nonviolent offenses from prison and could be used broadly to enhance criminal justice services at the local level. In conjunction with this project, county officials conducted a system mapping exercise and noted a gap in linkages to community-based services—particularly housing services—for people leaving the county jail.

Learn more about (PDF) how the Sheriff’s Office addressed this gap.