Reentry programs and reentry courts are designed to help returning citizens successfully "reenter" society following their incarceration, thereby reducing recidivism, improving public safety, and saving money.
A primary focus of our reentry efforts is to remove or reduce barriers to successful reentry, so that motivated individuals - who have served their time and paid their debt to society - are able to compete for a job, attain stable housing, support their children and their families, and contribute to their communities.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania participates in a variety of reintegration programs:
Our office supports one of the first federal court reentry programs in the country. The early efforts to support court-assisted reentry helped inspire the changes now taking place in courts and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country.
The United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania conducts a Court-Assisted Re-Entry Program (CARE), a four-phase program designed to aid the rehabilitation and re-integration of persons recently released into the community under federal supervised release and who face a moderate to high-risk of recidivism.
The CARE Program relies upon support from public institutions and agencies as well as volunteer private entities and individuals. The Middle District of Pennsylvania CARE Program has existed since 2009. While CARE was an early federal reentry program, it was not the first. The CARE Program was modeled after court sponsored reentry programs in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Western District of Michigan and the Eastern District of New York.
The U.S. Probation Office, the Federal Public Defenders and the U.S. Attorney’s Office participate in the program. The CARE Program offers an alternative program of supervision and a blend of treatment and support to effectively address offender behavior and rehabilitation. Most CARE participants have served multi-year prison sentences and face barriers to reintegration to the community. The CARE Program is an intensive voluntary program in which criminal justice professionals who comprise the “CARE Team,” encourage and assist participants to seek educational, employment, health, family counseling and other opportunities to aid in their successful return to the community as productive and law abiding citizens.
The CARE Program is voluntary. Persons recently released from federal prison and serving a period of supervised release under supervision of the U.S. Probation Office are eligible to apply for admission. Each applicant is considered based on the totality of his/her individual circumstances, including a Risk Prediction Index and Post Conviction Risk Assessment scores. The U.S. Probation Office considers each applicant and then makes a recommendation to the Court and to the participating Federal Public Defenders and Assistant United States Attorneys as to whether or not an applicant would likely benefit from the program. Before making recommendations, the Probation Office also consults the federal judge who imposed the original prison sentence and term of supervised release and the federal prosecutor who handled the case. While the Assistant United States Attorneys and Federal Public Defenders who participate in the CARE Program are consulted regarding an applicant’s suitability for participation, the U.S. District Court judge who oversees the program makes the final decision as to whether or not to admit an applicant.
The CARE Program operates in the Court’s Harrisburg, Scranton and Williamsport venues. There is no set number of allowable participants. However, experience suggests that multiple groups that meet separately and consist of approximately 10 participants per group leads to ideal circumstances for interactions between participants, the Court and other CARE partners.
The length of time a person participates in the CARE Program depends upon the length of that person’s term of supervised release. The intensive phase of the program is generally 12 months, followed by a period of regular supervision that varies depending on the length of the term of supervised release. For example, if a participant’s term of supervised release is three years, then the participant is in the intensive phase for 12 months and on regular supervision for 12 months. If the participant successfully completes the first two phases of the program, then the last 12 months of the term of supervised release are terminated.
Some participants who graduate from the CARE Program and who are no longer under court supervision are invited to attend meetings to speak with current participants.
In the summer of 2015 an innovative public/private partnership between the CARE Program and ESSA Bank & Trust, Northampton Community College, and Pyramid Healthcare, Inc. local, regional, and national nonpartisan private business interests, whose goals and missions, among other things, are to be involved in their respective communities, was established. Each of these entities has demonstrated a commitment to support the reentry efforts of the CARE Program through a focused set of activities called, collectively, Cooperatively Arranged Re-Entry Services (“CARES”). Each participating entity has entered into a written agreement to provide the services. The CARES providers have expressed common goals for their investment of resources and services: to enhance crime prevention, deter crime, help families, save costs to taxpayers, and reduce recidivism.
The purpose of this public-private collaborative arrangement is to provide services to CARE Program participants that will aid and assist in reaching its goals and objectives. One of the most innovative aspects of the CARES Agreement is that the services provided are available, not only while a CARE participant is enrolled in the CARE Program, but also after the participant graduates from the Program and is no longer under court supervision.
Another key component of CARES is participation of individual community volunteers who provide mentoring services to some CARE participants.
The CARES partnership is a precedent-setting initiative supportive of the federal reentry program because it provides a continuum of services to participants and graduates of the CARE Program, including scholarships, grants, and loans for education, job training, transportation, housing, healthcare, drug and alcohol counseling, etc.
Every participant in the CARE Program, as well as every graduate of the Program, is eligible to participate in the recently announced CARES Program.
There is no established limit to the number of people who will be permitted to receive services under the CARES Program.
Federal Interagency Reentry Council (FIRC)
The FIRC, established by the Attorney General in January 2011, comprises 20 federal agencies representing a significant executive branch commitment to coordinating reentry efforts and advancing effective reentry policies. It is premised on the recognition that many federal agencies have a major stake in prisoner reentry. Learn more
Reentry improves public safety. Approximately two million adults are incarcerated in state prisons and local jails. Nationally, two out of every three people released from state prisons are rearrested for a new offense and about half are reincarcerated within three years. Reducing recidivism is critical for increasing long-term public safety and lowering corrections costs.
Individuals who have been incarcerated can expect their future earnings to be reduced by about 40 percent after they return to their communities. Reentry efforts seek to reduce barriers to employment so that people with past criminal involvement – after they have been held accountable and paid their dues – can compete for work opportunities.
There is often a lack of continuity in care from inside the prison to the community. Reentry efforts can help ensure that the Affordable Care Act and other reforms will significantly increase access to appropriate physical and behavioral health interventions after release from incarceration. Substance abuse can be a significant impediment to successful reentry and a major health concern. Addressing the root causes of substance abuse leads to improved public safety.
Education is a core resource for release preparation, and is an evidence-based tool for reducing recidivism among adults and juveniles. Participation in education programming was associated with a 16 percent reduction in recidivism in one study. Education is also a critical building block for increasing employment opportunities.
Stable housing with appropriate supportive services is a key factor in preventing homelessness and reducing recidivism. The goal is to reduce barriers to public and subsidized housing, and advance promising models that improve outcomes for people who repeatedly use corrections and homeless services.
For further information concerning our Reentry Program, please contact Dawn Clark at 717-221-4458/ Dawn.Clark2@usdoj.gov or visit: