City of Boston's Youth Violence Prevention Plan Spotlight on Reentry: Boston Reentry Initiative
The Boston Reentry Initiative (BRI) was created in response to resurgence in violent crime in hotspot neighborhoods. An analysis showed that ex-offenders returning to high-crime neighborhoods from the Suffolk County House of Corrections contributed significantly to the spike in crime. The BRI targets high-risk male offenders from Suffolk County House of Corrections between the ages of 17 and 30 with documented histories of gang and gun violence who committed crimes in and/or will return to one of Boston’s three main hotspot neighborhoods and adjacent areas. This population poses the greatest threat not only of reoffending, but also of propagating gang and gun violence upon release, as they already have criminal and incarceration histories that indicate future, more serious offenses.
According to the findings of a 2009 study1, BRI participation:
- resulted in an estimated 30% reduction in recidivism rates of the population selected, based on their 100% likeliness to reoffend.
- resulted in a reduction in “time to recidivism” (arrest) relative to a comparison group of offenders.
- decreased the likeliness of participatns to be rearrested for a violent offense relative to comparison group of offenders.
Each month, BPD’s Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC) scrutinizes the list of offenders entering SCHOC looking for eligible participants. All new inmates who meet these age-based, historical, and geographical criteria are entered into a list, which is then vetted by SCHOC, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, and the United States Attorney’s Office. On average, 12 high-risk inmates are chosen for the BRI every month.
The foundation of the BRI is the monthly message panel, which introduces each class of BRI inmates to the BRI’s offerings and underscores the consequences of reoffending in the future.
At the monthly panel, law enforcement, prosecutorial, supervisory, community, and faith-based organizations present directly to new BRI inmates as a united front: there are many life-changing opportunities available, but there are also swift and severe consequences for reoffending.
Representatives from social service and government agencies, community organizations, and faith-based groups provide a message of consolidated support and lay out available resources. Case manager/mentors, who carry the credibility of being from the same neighborhoods as the BRI inmates and/or ex-offenders themselves, emphasize the importance and the feasibility of choosing a law-abiding way of life. Having personally examined each inmate’s record, attorneys from the District Attorney’s and U.S. Attorney’s Offices explain the consequences of reoffending, warning about escalated classifications and lengthy incarcerations. This enforcement-oriented component complements the encouragement offered by the other partners, eliminates offender anonymity, and demonstrates coordination between public safety agencies, which encourages the inmates to take advantage of the BRI’s offerings.
Following assessment, an Individual Service Plan is tailored to each individual’s needs with regard to employment, education, housing, treatment, benefits, and family. Case manager/mentors and the rest of the reentry team match each inmate with appropriate offerings from SCHOC and other BRI partners to address his slate of needs. SCHOC provides comprehensive programming and services for its inmates with educational, pre-employment, mental health, substance abuse, ID and benefits procurement, and family-oriented offerings. Presently, the BRI case manager/mentors put on a Job Readiness Workshop, a two-week program that teaches soft skills for the working world and concludes with a ceremony in which participants receive certificates of completion. The Youth Options Unlimited (YOU) Career Development Coordinator also begins meeting with BRI offenders in-house to lay the groundwork for their post-release employment options.
Point of release
Transitional services bridge the gap during the crucial first 24-72 hours following release. Prior to release, the BRI case manager/mentor reaches out to the released offender’s family if possible to solidify his housing situation and establish post-release familial accountability. Additionally, the case manager/mentor makes sure that each offender is receiving any and all government benefits for which he is eligible. On the day of release, if no family member is available, the case manager/ mentor meets the released participant at the door of SCHOC and escorts him home or to a transitional housing facility. To reach offenders quickly after release, YOU runs a highly successful Transitional Employment Program that slates BRI offenders for subsidized work upon release, providing much-needed income to help prevent relapses into illegal behavior.
Case manager/mentors and the reentry support teams continue working with BRI participants for 12-18 months post-release to help them meet the goals of their individual reentry plans. If an offender has conditional supervision with the Department of Probation or Parole, the case manager/mentors collaborate with the appropriate officer, who factors in their recommendations when determining terms of probation/parole, changes in requirements, or revocation decisions.
For more information please contact:
Boston Police Department
- Findings from an external evaluation completed in 2008 by Anthony A. Braga, Anne M. Piehl, and David Hureau, Controlling Violent Offenders Released to the Community: An Evaluation of the Boston Reentry Initiative, 2008..