National, state and local reentry agencies and organizations, leading resource centers and advocacy organizations

Most of the organizations listed here issue publications and maintain on-line libraries of their own, some of which are relatively extensive.

National Reentry Resource Center of the Council of State Governments (CSG) sponsored by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, United States Department of Justice and succinctly described here (pdf) is a key resource for news, webinars, information about the Second Chance Act, announcements of federal grants and a growing reference library on a wide range of reentry topics.

The Vera Institute of Justice  offers research on specific reentry issues, including education and family reunification and evaluations of reentry programming in Boston, Massachusetts and a jail reentry program in Los Angeles, California.

The Pew Center on the States Public Safety Initiative has undertaken state-level juvenile and criminal system reform in more than 30 states, collaborating with the Council of State Governments, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Vera Institute and private funders. Pew’s reports compare trends in crime rates and incarceration, reform strategies and outcomes, with passing reference to reentry programs and reforms particularly as they may affect recidivism.

The Urban Institute provides a portfolio of research findings, and a research-based analysis of the nexus between employment and reentry coming out of its initial efforts in reentry as one of 10 partner agencies of the Re-Entry Policy Council, established in 2001 by the Council of State Governments to assist state government officials face the growing numbers of people leaving prison and jail and returning to the community.

The John Jay College of Law Prisoner Reentry Institute highlights reentry initiatives and publishes research and policy papers in independently and in conjunction with the Urban Institute.  

The Sentencing Project provides a rich collection of insightful research on sentencing and incarceration, important research on collateral consequences of a criminal conviction, race and felony disenfranchisement.

The American Conservative Union Foundation’s Center for Criminal Justice Reform urges federal reforms patterned after those successfully introduced in several states. The Center’s Director Pat Nolan, who has testified before Congress and spoken out in favor of fair and effective employment-related reentry, maintains a blog at this location.

A private group publishes Reentry Central "The National Website on Reentry" as an independent reporter on developments and trends in reentry and related criminal justice issues. (Subscription)

Federal agencies administering reentry programs, initiatives and grants

United States Department of Justice – Office of Justice Programs – Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) administers the Second Chance Act and many other grant-making programs supporting corrections and reentry programming at the local, state and national level. To read a description of BJA’s programs, go to this page and check the “corrections” box. Of particular interest:

  • The BJA site links to a description and information about the Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program (PIECP or “Pie Programs”), the “underutilized” program which is intended to create opportunities for prison inmates to work in realistic work environments for close to prevailing wages.
  • The BJA site links to a description and information about its Justice Reinvestment Initiative which (as of January 2015) has made grants or participated in activities in conjunction with the Council of State governments and Pew Trusts in 24 states and 17 local jurisdictions, focusing on “evidence-based practices” in four categories: monitoring for effectiveness; using immediate, swift, and certain responses; implementing risk and needs assessments; and establishing problem-solving courts to work with key populations.

The National Institute of Justice hosts an interactive web site at  which provides a rating of various types of reentry programs including educational and vocational training programs, links to several evaluative reports on reentry programs, and access to a deep library of criminal justice information and research.

The United States Department of Labor’s Reintegration of Ex-Offenders – the Adult Program focuses on employment-centered programs supported by federal grants. The Department’s grant-making includes employment-related reentry projects and programs.

The United States Department of Education has sponsored key research in the area of training and education for inmates. While funding for secondary education for prisoners almost ended with their exclusion from Pell Grants, still roughly 240,000 or 10% of nearly 2.5 million participants in adult education report themselves to be prisoners or jail inmates. And, recently the Department renewed funding on a small level with the award of several pilot grants from the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education.

The Cabinet-level Reentry Council brings together 20 federal departments and agencies organized to coordinate and leverage federal resources for re-entry, removing federal barriers to re-entry and dispelling myths by educating key stakeholders about federal policies, resources and effective re-entry models. Several agencies appear to be documenting Reentry Council’s activities including the National Institute of Corrections and the Council of State Governments. Advocacy groups report on events such as an October 2014 meeting between the Reentry Council and a panel of former prisoners.

Bibliographies and References

The National Reentry Resource Center  and many of the other organizations and agencies listed above maintain reference libraries covering many reentry-related topics including employment. Some of these organization’s libraries refer only to their own published materials; others are more inclusive.

The Prison Reentry Strategies Project found the bibliographies and references listed below comprehensive, inclusive and useful. They are, however, only a small number of the many academic, agency, non-profit and library resources available, in large part on line, and absolutely no conclusion should be drawn from the fact that many excellent journal articles, professional publications, bibliographies or reference services are not included in this short list.

  • Of particular note, the Urban Institute provides an annotated list of more than 290 research articles (as of 15 January 2015) covering corrections, reentry, and community supervision issues, and including evaluative reports for Justice Reinvestment.
  • The National Institute of Corrections has published a .pdf document,  Annotated Bibliography Offender Reentry (July 2012) which contains a list of web sites, some not readily found elsewhere, and publications, most issued by government agencies and contracted non-profit organizations, some from early years and others very recent, with one seven page section dedicated to employment and housing reentry issues.
  • There are now a quantity of reentry plans prepared by state and local committees, commissions, and non-profit organizations, and many of these include bibliographies and lists of resources. Reaching a Higher Ground: Increasing Employment Opportunities for People with Prior Convictions (pdf) published by the Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice (and downloadable from a private site) is one exemplary example of an approach that incorporated principles developed by the Prison Reentry Strategies Project. It includes two helpful bibliographies and links to available publications. In addition, the Berkley Law Center for Social Justice published an annotated bibliography of 54 articles, Barriers to Employment and Reentry for Formerly Incarcerated People, in 2008.
  • Another Bay-area group, The City and County of San Francisco Reentry Council,  published a seven page 65+ entry “Literature Review Bibliography” in January 2010 (available now from a private site) (pdf) which includes several unique citations.
  • In 2011 The Constitution Project Smart on Crime Coalition published Smart on Crime: Recommendations for the Administration and Congress, (large pdf) which reviews federal policy and offers recommendations for reform in 16 key criminal justice areas, references to bibliographic information, experts and organizational resources. (Chapter 14 covers reentry and employment.)

Organizations with information about, or a particular focus on removing, barriers to employment for persons convicted of crimes:

National Employment Law Project (NELP) is perhaps one of two leading national resource for advocates, businesses and individuals charting the ins, outs and legal remedies to barriers to employment for persons convicted of crimes including those who were formerly incarcerated as well as the protection of worker’s rights generally.

The National H. I. R. E. Network (National Helping Individuals with criminal records Re-enter through Employment) is the second of the two leading national resources, a clearinghouse for information about employment and an advocate for policy change. Established in 2001 as a special project at the Legal Action Center, the mission of which is to fight discrimination against people with histories of addiction, HIV/AIDS, or criminal records and to advocate for sound public policies in these areas.

The Center for American Progress addresses selected criminal justice issues and a wide range of economic policy and poverty topics. It recently published One Strike and You’re Out: How We Can Eliminate Barriers to Economic Security and Mobility for People with Criminal Records, a comprehensive study of the challenges that befall people with criminal records, concluding with a full set of recommended remedies.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys (NACDL) is a resource for those interested in procedural and sentencing reforms in criminal justice. Of particular interest for reentry, NACDL is home to a set of publications and one of two databases that profiles state and territorial laws related to relief from the collateral consequences of conviction, including provisions on loss and restoration of civil rights and firearms privileges, legal mechanisms for overcoming or mitigating collateral consequences, and provisions addressing non-discrimination in employment and licensing. The NACDL provides a set of charts for each jurisdiction allows side-by-side comparisons and an overview of national patterns in restoration laws and policies.

With grant support from the National Institute of Corrections, the American Bar Association maintains the National Inventory of the Collateral Consequences of Convictions, a second source of state-by-state information about collateral consequences.

Employment Reentry in an increasingly technological world of work

In addition to individual economists and resources identified in the opening sections of  The Returning Prisoner and the Future of Work, the following are a few of rapidly-emerging gateway resources for information about the future of work for marginally-employed and disadvantaged workers in a technological world:

  • The Foundation on Economic Trends presents themes consistent with Founder Jeremy Rifkin’s predictions about The End of Work, that there will be fewer jobs and policymakers should consider alternatives to traditional full employment.
  • The Roosevelt Institute's Future of Work initiative is dedicated to rethinking the relationship between work and new economic realities, and to expanding workers’ access to labor markets and increasing the number of living wage jobs.
  • Labor economist Lynda Gratton writes and speaks frequently and with insight about the future of work; she maintains FoWLAB, an active blog.
  • The Economic Policy Institute publishes research and advocates for policies that reduce income disparity, increase employment opportunities and job growth, and address environmental, climate change and social concerns. EPI’s papers address issues related to mass incarceration as, for example, “The Need to Address Noncognitive Skills in the Education Policy Agenda,” (tracking one of the recommendations in The Returning Prisoner and the Future of Work).
  • The Soros Foundations sponsored a set of research and position papers, of which The Returning Prisoner and the Future of Work was one, which are to be available on-line from the Future of Work Initiative of the Foundations’ Special Initiatives and Partnerships, U. S. Programs.