Successfully transitioning back into society after leaving prison presents significant challenges. According to the National Institute of Justice, within three years of release approximately 67% of released prisoners are rearrested. During their time in prison, inmates may lose contact with their families and support networks. In addition, access to health and support services — including primary care, housing, behavioral health, education, and employment — is often limited.
In 2011, with a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dr. Adeline Nyamathi from the UCLA School of Nursing conducted a study regarding the effects of post-release coaching, case management, and health assistance on recidivism. Of the 600 parolees enrolled in this study who received a combination of peer coaching, case management, and hepatitis counseling, 62% re-entered the prison system within 12 months. This was down from the statewide average of 74%. While this rate is still higher than desired, the study showed that incorporating a care management plan lowered the recidivism rate and reduced drug use.
As costs continue to rise, more states and localities have begun to re-evaluate their criminal justice systems and devote increased attention to the care provided to individuals transitioning out of prisons. Massachusetts and Wyoming are examples of states incorporating innovative prisoner re-entry solutions to reduce the rate of recidivism and improve the overall well-being of former offenders.
Massachusetts was one of the first states to take steps to enroll incarcerated individuals in Medicaid in order to help their transition back into society. Starting in 2008, prison officials began enrolling inmates in Medicaid six months before their release and connecting them with a primary care physician. Since then, the state has added other care elements to its discharge planning, such as connecting individuals with HIV or AIDS with case managers and linking individuals with substance use treatment centers. This has successfully reduced care costs for the state and lowered the likelihood of parolees returning to prison.
Wyoming has the second lowest recidivism rate in the nation, second only to Oregon. They accomplish this by providing individualized rehabilitation plans for each inmate when they enter prison. These plans include support services, such as education and training programs while individuals are incarcerated, and “exit” plans connecting them to community transitional support services when they are released. For example, the welding job training program at the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institute at Torrington works with Eastern Wyoming College to offer inmates a certificate and college credit they can use towards an associate degree once they are released. The welding program has an unheard of zero percent recidivism rate.
Case Management Technology
In order to coordinate successful transitions and care for individuals leaving prison, states and localities need a comprehensive, case management platform for prisoner re-entry that can collaborate across multiple care providers and databases to connect individuals to necessary health and support services. Our ClientTrack case management platform provides the needed tools to track and manage outcomes for parolees in order to lower their risk of returning to prison and improve their overall well-being. The unique ClientTrack database structure provides interoperability, modularity, and a high degree of flexibility for state and local providers.