The Second Chance Act and Other Ongoing NIJ Research Projects
The Second Chance Act (SCA) was signed into law in 2008. The SCA authorizes federal agencies to award grants to state and
local agencies and nonprofit organizations to provide employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, housing, family programming,
mentoring, victims support and other services to people returning to the community from prison or jail. The goals of the SCA
are to increase re-entry programming and improve outcomes for offenders returning to their families and communities. (For
more information about the SCA, visit the National Reentry Resource Center Exit Notice.)
The SCA directs NIJ to evaluate the effectiveness of demonstration projects funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).
In fiscal year 2010, NIJ awarded $10 million for re-entry-related research:
- Evaluation of the BJA Second Chance Act Adult Demonstration Projects
Social Policy Research Associates will perform a $3 million, multi-year, multisite evaluation of seven SCA adult demonstration
sites. The evaluation will include impact, process, outcome and cost assessments of re-entry services. It also will include
an implementation study of three adult demonstration sites that are not included in the full-scale evaluation.
- Evaluation of the BJA Reentry Courts Program
Northwest Professional Consortium, Inc., is performing a $3 million, 42-month, multisite evaluation of BJA's Reentry Courts
Program. A process evaluation will document and compare program models and implementation. An impact evaluation will examine
re-arrests, reconvictions, violations and returns to incarceration. Cost-benefit analyses will look at the cost to the public
of program interventions versus "business as usual."
- Evaluation of the Multisite Demonstration Field Experiment: What Works in Reentry Research
In an effort to provide rigorous evidence of what works in re-entry, NIJ awarded $3 million to MDRC to conduct tests of promising
re-entry interventions, strategies or programs. Re-entering offenders will be randomly assigned to receive the experimental
treatment or to receive "business as usual" re-entry services (or some other clearly defined control treatment).
NIJ has also given additional funding for Alfred Blumstein and Kiminori Nakamura's research on hiring ex-offenders. The $247,000
project continues their previous research into calculations of "redemption time," the amount of time that an individual with
an arrest record has stayed "clean" (i.e., no additional arrests) and could be considered "redeemed" with respect to his or
her criminal record. The researchers are testing the robustness of the previous findings, and looking at out-of-state arrests
and racial differences. The work is increasingly relevant because of the large number of people who are handicapped in finding
employment by stale criminal records.
Date Created: March 26, 2012