One of the most profound challenges facing American society is the reintegration of more than 700,000 individuals—including 200,000 juveniles and young adults age 24 and under—who leave state and federal adult prisons and juvenile correctional facilities and return home each year. The four-fold increase in incarceration rates over the past 25 years has had far-reaching consequences. One and a half million children now have a parent in prison. Four million citizens have lost their right to vote. Prisoners leave correctional facilities with little preparation for life on the outside, no assistance with reintegration, and a high likelihood of return to prison for new crimes or parole violations. Of particular concern is the impact of this damaging cycle of removal and return of large numbers of juveniles and young adults. At the time of their arrest and incarceration, they typically are undergoing rapid physical, mental, and emotional changes. Such differences may be compounded by new and changing social expectations as they transition from adolescence to adulthood and from middle school to high school. Throughout, youth may face numerous obstacles, including family dysfunction, poverty, drug abuse, and inadequate education, treatment, and services, all of which may not only contribute to criminal behavior but also to their success during reentry in avoiding crime and becoming a contributing member of society.
The reality of reentry creates specific challenges for these young people, their families, and the community at large