NIJ Second Chance Act Reentry Courts

Status: complete

Purpose: NPC Research, RTI International, and the Center for Court Innovation (CCI) collaborated on NIJ’s evaluation of specialized reentry court models across eight sites funded by Second Chance Act funds through the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The importance of this evaluation stemmed from growing policymaker attention to the myriad problems associated with prisoner reentry, coupled with a dearth of “what works” knowledge generally and a paucity of rigorous research examining reentry courts in particular. Little is known about the challenges associated with reentry court implementation, which are likely to be substantial given issues such as jurisdictional authority, courts’ limited ability to “reach in” to prisons or jails to access participants prior to release, and difficulties meeting the substantial needs of the target population. Even less is known about the effectiveness or cost-effectiveness of reentry courts.

The evaluation plan included a process evaluation, impact evaluation, and cost-benefit analysis. This multi-site, multi-component, evaluation addressed the following goals:

  • Goal 1: Describe the SCA reentry courts through a comprehensive process evaluation
  • Goal 2: Determine the effectiveness of the SCA reentry courts at reducing recidivism and improving individual outcomes through a rigorous impact evaluation
  • Goal 3: Conduct a cost-benefit analysis
  • Goal 4: Contribute to the development of a true “reentry court model”

Project Design: This evaluation was performed in two phases. Phase 1 addressed Goal 1 of this evaluation and involved key stakeholder interviews with reentry court program staff (mainly government employees) to ask questions about program practices, an online interview for program staff on program practices, site visit to observe program practices and the development of tools (e.g., participant interview tools) that was used in Phase 2 of the evaluation, which addressed Goals 2 through 4.

Funding Source: National Institute of Justice

Start Date: October 2010

Project Team

Principal Investigator

Shannon Carey, Ph.D.

Project Director

Anna Malsch, Ph.D.

Project Staff

Theresa Herrera Allen, Ph.D.

Timothy Ho, Ph.D.

Adrian Johnson, M.S.W.

Wendy Nuzzo, M.S.

Mark Waller, B.A.

Charlene Zil, M.P.A.


Michael Finigan, Ph.D.