The Reentry Policy Council (RPC) was established in 2001 to assist state government officials grappling with the increasing number of people leaving prisons and jails to return to the communities they left behind. The RPC was formed with two specific goals in mind:
- To develop bipartisan policies and principles for elected officials and other policymakers to consider as they evaluate reentry issues in their jurisdictions.
- To facilitate coordination and information-sharing among organizations implementing reentry initiatives, researching trends, communicating about related issues, or funding projects.
The Reentry Policy Council is a national project coordinated by The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, a national nonprofit organization that serves policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels from all branches of government. The CSG Justice Center provides practical, nonpartisan advice and consensus-driven strategies—informed by available evidence—to increase public safety and strengthen communities.
At its 2001 meeting, the Executive Committee for The Council of State Governments (CSG) passed a resolution regarding the reentry of people released from prisons and jails into the community. The resolution described the concern of state government officials from both sides of the aisle about prisoner reentry, their desire to inform state policymaking around this issue, and their efforts to ensure that the federal government facilitates reentry initiatives at the state and local level that recognize the unique needs of each jurisdiction.
The committee identified this issue as particularly pressing for several reasons: Unprecedented numbers of people are being released from U.S. prisons and jails. Recidivism rates are high, creating a costly cycle of incarceration, release, and return. Corrections budgets have soared to accommodate increasing numbers of people in prisons and jails at a time when fiscal crises in most states are forcing cuts in critical services. Meanwhile, this significant growth in corrections spending has occurred without an accompanying increase in public safety.
The resolution established a national Reentry Policy Council charged with developing a comprehensive, bipartisan set of recommendations for policymakers to use to improve the likelihood that adults released from prison or jail will avoid crime and become productive, healthy members of families and communities.
In May 2001, CSG convened a cross-section of stakeholders, both Republican and Democrat, who are involved in ensuring the successful transition of individuals from prisons and jails to the community. Following this meeting, CSG established a Steering Committee whose members represent a variety of systems involved in reentry issues, drawing upon expertise from a range of relevant viewpoints. The committee was composed of representatives from ten organizations:
- American Probation and Parole Association (APPA)
- Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA)
- Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH)
- National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO)
- National Association of State Alcohol/Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD)
- National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD)
- National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB)
- National Center for State Courts (NCSC)
- Police Executive Research Forum (PERF)
- Urban Institute
The Steering Committee organized the RPC into three advisory groups: Public Safety and Restorative Activities, Supportive Health and Housing, and Workforce Development and Employment Opportunities. In forming the advisory groups, members of the Steering Committee identified practitioners and policymakers widely respected by their counterparts across the country, ensuring an impressive level of expertise across the project. Collectively, members of the advisory groups represented a wide array of local and state jurisdictions, both rural and urban, across the country. They hailed from government organizations, as well as nonprofit groups and the private sector.
Over the course of the next three years, the Steering Committee and advisory groups met separately and collectively on several occasions. The comprehensive Report of the Re-Entry Policy Council
, published in 2005, reflects the results of their work: policy statements and recommendations to promote the safe and successful return of individuals from prison or jail to the community. To learn more about the Report
, click here