The dilemma for the Reentry Court field is that there is a relative dearth of specific information and scientific literature on Reentry Courts. Some are so disheartened, that they are prepared to put off developing a Reentry Court till research based guidance is provided. I would suggest that it’s far better to make use of relevant research materials and evidence based practices available to the reentry court field now, than wait for specific reentry court publications that may arrive too late to be of use. This is especially true, as the “drug court” that reentry court is modeled after has already been intensely evaluated and shown to be the most effective modality, in dealing with the high-risk offenders, those offenders who are overwhelmingly leaving our jails and prisons.
The National Institute of Corrections (NIC) has been an important resource for correctional reform information since 1977. Over the past decade, the NIC has dedicated itself to providing state of the art tools for jurisdictions interested in improving ” offender reentry” from jails and prisons into their communities. While it’s publications and web-based tools are rarely reentry court specific, they do provide important and relevant research based information that can be applied to your reentry court program. Importantly, the NIC has adopted an early intervention model, that focuses on the offender’s seamless reentry from the time of sentence (and by inference, the time of arraignment).
The NIC “ TPC Reentry Handbook (Transition from Prison to Community) was developed [in 2008] as a resource for a broad range of stakeholders involved in improving transition and reentry practices (p.3)”. The National Institute of Corrections and project partner the Urban Institute developed its “Transition from Jail to Community” project (TJC) with a similar purpose, with its TJC Implementation Toolkit coming on line just last month. According to the NIC blurb, “This web-based learning resource guides local criminal justice agencies and community-based organizations through implementation of the TJC model, in whole or in part.” It would appear these publications and web-based tools ought to be part of every reentry court’s library.