Evidence Based Practices in Prisoner Reentry: What Does the Research Say?


Abigail Becker


Case Type
Project Stories
Sustainable Development Goals
10 Reduced Inequalities

This project is an exploration of evidence-based reentry research, resources, and areas for growth. The following resource was completed by students in UW Madison Psych Senior Capstone “Issues in Prisoner Reentry” provided by Dr. Patti Coffey in collaboration with Brown County & the UniverCity Alliance project.

Students explored issues related to 1) the impact of incarceration on families, 2) programs providing community involved support for reentry, 3) the role of specialized treatment courts with a focus on mental health courts, 4) the need to address mental and physical health issues, 5) the role of employment and housing challenges related to reentry, and 6) the special needs of juveniles in the system. The class started with students attending a virtual reentry conference and examining best practices related to working in the community, practiced the development of active listening and interview skills, and developed a plan for reaching out to Brown County professionals and community members. The completed project involved students completing two separate processes and resulted in each group completing two components.

•First, students at the start of the semester began gathering research and media resourcesrelated to reentry issues. This included searching for media articles related specifically to BrownCounty. They continued to expand research gathering throughout the semester. For the finalprojects, each group found the most relevant articles and then developed annotatedbibliographies for their topic area. The goal was to develop a resource of relevant researcharticles and other resources related to reentry for Brown County. The final projected included asummary page for an overview of the key findings in the resource packet.

•Second, each group conducted interviews and explored resources in Brown County. They discovered many innovative programs in Brown County. Each group then developed an Asset Map to represent all the strengths in Brown County and provided a summary of the interviewinformation they gathered.

In addition to developing an understanding of the issues related to prisoner reentry, students gainedvaluable professional experience regarding how to consult and contribute to community agencies. A major goal of this course is to contribute to a “real world” understanding of how psychology cancontribute in a meaningful way to the needs of communities in Wisconsin and beyond. The goal is forthis course exemplifies the UW civic engagement plan in action by enacting a collaboration that is mutually beneficial for students and community partners. Students were pleased by how helpful people were when they reached out amid this pandemic to ask for time for an interview. An overall impression of Brown County from these interviews and the review of the resources is that Brown County is advanced in many ways in comparison to other regions in Wisconsin. Students were extremely impressed with the strong commitment to improve reentry services by various parties from various positions. They were also incredibly grateful to be part of a class project that may be of service in the “real world”. We thank Brown County for the opportunity to engage in this exploration of evidence-based practices and the programs in place and provide “wish lists” for further improvement of reentry practices in Brown County.

UniverCity Year Contact Info
Gavin Luter
Managing Director

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