What is Prisoner Reentry?

Last Updated on May 11, 2022 by Fair Punishment Team

When a prisoner has served their sentence behind bars, they’re released back into society to live their life outside of jail. However, it’s not always as simple as packing their bags and sending them on their way.

There are lots of processes in place to ensure that these individuals are fit to rejoin the population, without posing a threat to the civilians around them.

We’ve researched the topic to help you understand the topic as best as you can.

How Many Cases of Prisoner Reentry Every Year?

When there are as many prisoners in the US as there are, it’s expected that there’s a huge number of reentry cases across the country. In 2020 there were over 2 million people in prisons across America, meaning the US had the highest incarceration rate worldwide, home to the largest number of prisoners.

 At any time, there are nearly 6.0 million people scattered throughout the justice system in America. These areas can include anything from being in jail, in prison, on probation, or parole in the United States. On average, more than 600,000 people are released from federal and state prisons countrywide.

More than two-thirds of prisoners are sent back behind bars within 3 years of their release. Over half of offenders are reincarcerated following their release from state or federal prisons.

It’s thought that roughly 1 in 28 children in America currently have a parent on the inside of a cell, with mass incarceration a massive factor in poverty throughout the country.

Without mass incarceration, it is estimated that 5 million fewer American citizens would be classed as ‘poor’ between 1980 and 2014.

What is the Federal Second Chance Act?

To help with the process of reintroducing former prisoners back into normal life, the US Congress created the Second Chance Act to authorize federal funding for state and federal reentry programs.

Within Congress, no money can be appropriated, or spent, unless it is authorized first. Once authorized, the appropriations committee distributes funds to a reentry program, to help incarcerated individuals find their place in society once more. 

According to the National Reentry Resource Center, the Second Chance Act supports local, state, and tribal governments and nonprofit organizations to improve the situations for people returning to society from state and federal prisons.

Other facilities that are helped by this act include local jails and juvenile facilities for young offenders. 

What do Reentry Programs Include? 

Successful reentry programs for inmates rely on more than just helping ex-convicts find jobs outside of the prison walls. They also help offenders to change their attitudes and their outlook towards crime in general.

On top of this, these programs help to address mental health issues and provide mentoring, whilst offering educational opportunities and job training.

The overall goal of these programs is to make the transition back into modern life as easy as possible, providing as many opportunities as are available. 

When it comes to reentering society, former offenders are faced with lots of obstacles to finding new jobs and getting on with their lives.

Because of their offenses, their record is affected, however, taking part in programs such as these can massively increase their favorability with employers.

It shows that prisoners have made an effort and shown the initiative to want to get back into working life. 

What is the Male Community Reentry Program?

The Male Community Reentry Program, or MCRP, is a voluntary program made available for males with two years or less left on their prison sentence left to serve.

This allows eligible people in state prisons to serve the remaining time on their sentence in the community, instead of confinement in a cell.

This benefits many people and ensures that the community gains something from the justice system, as well as prisoners getting experience before release. 

Launched in 2015, the MCRP is constructed to provide a range of rehabilitation-based services within the community that assists with substance use disorder, medical care, mental health care, social support, housing, employment, and education.

These rehabilitation services can include guidance and support, family reunification, health care services, and recovery groups. 

MCRP is available in Kern County, San Diego County, Los Angeles County, and Butte. Butte includes Tehama, Nevada, Colusa, Glenn, Sutter, Placer, and Yuba. Individuals are allowed to participate for up to 2 years but no less than 60 days. 

Ineligibility for the Male Community Reentry Program

Not every prisoner is eligible for this program, however. For example, if the offender has a prior or current conviction for a sexually violent offense, then it can be deemed that they are safer to the community on the inside of prison until the end of their sentence.

An offender may also be exempt from this program if they have an active or potential felony hold, warrant, or detainer, which may make them a potential threat to people on the outside. 

Another reason that an offender may be left out from this program is if the individual has been released from a Security Housing Unit or a Psychiatric Security Unit within the last 12 months before this program.

This is to stop a potential threat from the community and to protect the offenders’ mental health should they struggle to adjust back to life outside of confinement.


In short, prisoner reentry is in place to ensure the safety of both the offenders in question and the civilians in the communities that they are set to join.

Not only this but reentry programs have been used to ensure that these individuals are ready to have jobs and help the communities they wish to join.

With regards to protecting the offenders, there’s a huge difference between life behind bars and the normality of life outside of prison.

These reentry programs can be used to ensure a smooth transition back into a life without crime, without straining the mental health of those involved.

With so many offenders being released back onto the streets every year, the US Government wants to ensure the protection of all of its citizens in the country.