After years of developments in thinking about the purpose and impact of incarceration, the concept of successful reentry has become a critical aspect of correctional missions to improve public safety and is now deeply entrenched in criminal justice policy and practice. Along with that shift in thinking has come dramatic change in what reentry looks like on the ground, as organizations and jurisdictions around the country apply both new and tested methods of responding to people in the criminal justice system and preparing them to return to their communities. Many of these organizations and jurisdictions have received funding to translate reentry philosophy into practice through the landmark Second Chance Act (SCA), which was signed into law in 2008.

Enacted with bipartisan support, SCA helps state, local, and tribal governments and nonprofit organizations in their work to reduce recidivism and improve outcomes among people who have been in the criminal justice system. Since its passage 10 years ago, SCA has supported more than 900 grants for adult and youth reentry programs, as well as systemwide improvements to help jurisdictions better address the needs of people who are incarcerated.

This brief highlights areas vital to successful reentry and offers examples of how SCA grantees have addressed these issues among the people they serve. The practices used by these programs reflect a growing body of research that shows that targeting people who have a medium to high risk of reoffending and tailoring services to meet certain needs has the greatest impact on lowering rates of recidivism.