Reentry Court RFP: A New “Evidence-Base” Standard

Note: Deadline for applications; June 3, 2010

This is the second of several articles  on the “Second Chance Act” Reentry Court Solicitation. In this analysis,  I will review the RFP from a Evidence Based Sentencing (EBS) Perspective.

The new BJA Rentry Court Solicitation clearly differs from those for previous Problem-Solving Courts. In some ways it is the first of its kind. At an initial reading, one notes the lack of any reference to the “Drug Court Ten Key Components”. As recently as February of this year, Drug Courts, along with, DUI, Mental Health, Veterans, and Community Court applicants were required to show how thir programs complied with the Ten Key components. So while Reentry Courts emerged from the drug court court field, there appears to be some recognition that they are substantially different from them.

Under this solicitaiton, reentry court applicants   must adhere to the “Six Core Components” (see p.3), as described in the 2003 publication, Reentry Courts Process Evaluation (Phase 1), reflecting the research and experience of nine reentry court research sites that were  part of  a previous, short lived Reentry Court Initiative  (RCI: 2000). A review of that document, as well as other historical documents, would be a good place to begin this application process (NCJR Reentry Court Documents)

More importantly, the entire focus of this RFP takes us in a new direction.  While problem solving court applicants must follow the statutory prohibition against violent offenders as participants, found in the drug court solicitation (42 U.S.C. 3797u-2; found at p1,f1), there is no such prohibition for reentry courts. The perceived intent of the reentry court solicitiaition is to reduce recidicism of serious offenders through the application of  Evidence Based Sentencing Practices (referred euphemisticaly  in the RFP as “evidence based activities”).

Importantly, this is the first BJA problem-solving court RFP that requires the identification of high risk offenders through the application of a validated risk/needs assessment tool, a key component of any EBP based sentencing strategy (note: high risk in this context refers to the risk to reoffend). While EBP began in the medical and treatment fields (and is a part of some BJA RFPs as they relate to treatment programs), this Reentry Court Solicitation breaks new ground, in prioritizing those applications that will apply evidence-based practices to problem-solving court components.

Inquiries about this “Request For Proposal” should be directed to Dr. Gary Dennis, Senior Policy Advisor For Corrections, at (202) 305-9059 or gary.dennis[email protected].

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