Evaluation of Second Chance Act Demonstration Projects

The Second Chance Act of 2007 (Public Law 110-199) authorizes awarding federal grants to government agencies and nonprofit organizations to provide employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, housing, family programming, mentoring, victim support and other services to individuals returning to the community from prison or jail.[1] The goals of the Second Chance Act are to increase reentry programming and improve outcomes for offenders returning to their families and communities.

The Second Chance Act directs NIJ to evaluate the effectiveness of offender reentry demonstration projects funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). Since fiscal year 2010, NIJ has awarded approximately $15 million in Second Chance Act funds for reentry-related research. See the table “Ongoing NIJ Evaluations of Second Chance Act Projects” for more information on NIJ-funded Second Chance Act grants.

Ongoing NIJ Evaluations of Second Chance Act Projects
TitleAwardeeAward AmountAward Number
An Evaluation of the Second Chance Act Demonstration Field Experiment: Fostering Desistance Through Effective SupervisionMDRC$3,000,0002010-RY-BX-0002
Description: BJA, the National Institute of Corrections, and NIJ are partnering to support this multisite desistance experiment in an effort to expand the body of evidence on improving outcomes for adult offenders re-entering the community. This demonstration field experiment (DFE) will combine a multisite demonstration of a re-entry model with a rigorous experimental evaluation in applied real world settings. The Second Chance Act DFE will also focus on techniques to improve adult offenders' motivation to change and strategies to alter criminal thinking using a desistance approach. It will answer critical questions about the impact of providing criminal thinking interventions on offender outcomes. The evaluation for this DFE will be conducted by MRDC and George Mason University (GMU). Three sites have been selected for the experiment — the Colorado Department of Corrections, the Iowa Department of Corrections and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Each DFE site will work closely with members of the evaluation team to ensure program model fidelity and to help each DFE site plan and implement the DFE model. MDRC/GMU will conduct a randomized control trial test of the program model to assess offender outcomes post-release, including re-offending and re-incarceration (recidivism).
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Completed NIJ Evaluations of Second Chance Act Projects
TitleAwardeeAward AmountAward Number
Evaluation of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention FY2010 Second Chance Act Juvenile Offender Reentry Demonstration Projects Urban Institute$1,997,1002012-RY-BX-0013
Description: The Urban Institute is conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the FY 2010 Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Second Chance Act projects. Researchers are using a mixed-method evaluation strategy that includes evaluability assessments of the five sites participating in the evaluation, process and fidelity evaluations of each of the five sites, and a two-tiered impact evaluation of the sites as appropriate.
Evaluation of the FY2011 BJA Second Chance Act Adult Offender Reentry Demonstration Projects (Focus Area 2)Research Triangle Institute$3,534,5892012-RY-BX-0001
Description: RTI assessed the implementation, effects and cost-effectiveness of eight adult reentry programs funded by BJA in FY2010 and FY2011. Researchers assessed whether the programs achieved the primary goals of reducing recidivism and increasing public safety, as well as increasing employment and education opportunities, reducing violations of conditions of release, and other outcomes of interest.

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An Evaluation of BJA Second Chance Act Adult Demonstration ProjectsSocial Policy Research Associates$3,656,3572010-RY-BX-0003
Description: SPR conducted a 36-month evaluation of seven Second Chance Act adult offender re-entry demonstration projects funded by BJA in 2009. The evaluation includes impact, process and outcome analyses and cost assessments of re-entry services provided by the sites.

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A review of this research resulted in a "No Effects"+ rating on NIJ's CrimeSolutions.gov for Second Chance Act (SCA) Adult Reentry Demonstration Programs.
Evaluation of the FY2011 BJA Second Chance Act Adult Offender Reentry Demonstration Projects (Focus Area 1)Urban Institute$399,4332012-R2-CX-0032
Description: The Urban Institute conducted an intensive, comprehensive evaluability assessment (EA) of the 10 BJA Second Chance Act adult offender re-entry demonstration projects funded in FY2011. The EAs assessed each site's capacity and readiness for evaluation across multiple domains. Data on training and technical assistance needs were collected.
Read an abstract and access the executive summary for the FY2011 Second Chance Act Adult Offender Reentry Demonstration Projects Evaluability Assessment.
Read abstracts and access the full reports for the projects:
An Evaluation of BJA's Second Chance Act FY2010 State, Tribal and Local Reentry Courts ProgramNorthwest Professional Consortium, Inc.$2,998,8502010-RY-BX-0001
Description: Northwest Professional Consortium, Inc., completed a multisite evaluation of the program. Researchers are using a process evaluation to document and compare program models and implementation; an impact evaluation to examine rearrests, reconvictions, violations and returns to incarceration using pre/post archival data; and cost-benefit analyses to calculate avoided public costs by comparing program interventions to "business-as-usual" conditions.
Read an abstract of and access the full interim reports on:
Date Modified: May 13, 2019