The Institute for Advancing Justice Research and Innovation is dedicated to staying at the forefront of knowledge in reducing the size of the criminal justice system and the cycle of incarceration. Because the evidence-base for services for justice-involved individuals and their families and effective policy-making is limited, we take an evidence-driven approach. We apply a gold standard lens to defining evidence-based practices. Those practices meeting the gold standard include services approaches and interventions that have undergone a randomized controlled trial conducted with a vulnerable and marginalized sample and that have resulted in positive client outcomes.

Our evidence-driven principle recognizes that we have to look to cutting edge interventions that have been developed with other vulnerable and marginalized populations who may not have had an incarceration history. Therefore, in addition to analyzing research with people involved in the criminal justice system, we examine research conducted on people with substance use disorders, people with serious mental illnesses, individuals who are homeless, veterans of warzones, and juvenile justice involved youth. Lessons learned from this breadth of research is incorporated into our conceptual models and policy and practice innovations. We share the knowledge we gain through reentry practice briefs, scholarly publications, speeches/presentations, workshops and training institutes.

Highlighted working papers

Within multimodal prisoner reentry programs, an important challenge for practitioners is how to effectively assign participants to services based on individual need. The Reentry Well-Being Assessment Tool (RWAT) is an innovative practice tool to systematically guide individualized assignment into reentry program services based on a participant’s changing needs during the transition from prison to the community. Promoting Reentry Well-Being: A Novel Assessment Tool for Individualized Service Assignment in Prisoner Reentry Programs.pdf

Positive social support is critically important to post prison well- being outcomes.  However researchers and program developers are still trying to understand how to best promote stable and sustainable social support for formerly incarcerated individuals. One factor that has received little attention in prisoner reentry related literature, is how social support experiences vary by male or female gender. We sought to add to the body of knowledge on social support and prisoner reentry by examining the influences (e.g., positive or negative) and amount of social support for men and women releasing from prison. Gender Differences in Experiences of Social Support Among Men and Women Releasing from Prison.pdf

Studies of incarcerated men report up to 98% have had at least one lifetime traumatic experiences – many have experienced multiple traumas. With nearly 600,000 men releasing from correctional facilities each year, there is an urgent need to develop targeted interventions for incarcerated men. We propose a conceptual model of a multi-phased trauma intervention to guide practice and research on adapting existing trauma treatment approaches to the special circumstances of men releasing from incarceration.  Conceptual Model to Guide Practice and Research in Trauma Interventions for Men Releasing from Incarceration.pdf

Approximately 77% of people who release from prison are rearrested for a new crime within five years. No standard model of reentry program exists and current approaches to reentry program practice are insufficient. Thus, a new framework for prisoner reentry practice is needed. We propose a new model based on five key mechanisms of action that are empirically and theoretically associated with recidivism. Using prior research, the Five Core Facilitators of Well-Being Development are intermediate outcomes around which reentry programming can be standardized and evaluated.  The Five Core Facilitators of Well-Being Development Model.pdf

Research and practice wisdom points to the powerful role of positive social support from loved ones of people getting out of prison. Yet, emerging evidence also indicates that this support is complicated, fragile, and may deteriorate over time. Here we highlight two working papers that seek to identify indicators of when and how best to facilitate stable and sustainable social support for men and women returning to communities. Deterioration of Social Support Post - Incarceration for Emerging Adults.pdf; Enhancing Social Support Post - Incarceration.pdf

The incarceration rate is a function not only of criminal behavior but of decisions made by police officers, prosecutors, and judges. These local actors have considerable discretion whether to conduct a search, make an arrest, charge a person with a crime, classify a crime as a misdemeanor or felony, or issue a lengthy prison sentence. This could result in a higher rate of incarceration than is socially optimal if local actors derive benefit from incarceration yet only consider their private cost, ignoring costs to the state. Charging local governments on a per-prisoner basis for the cost of incarceration could induce local actors to internalize the externality and reduce the number of prison admissions. This study uses a two-agent, partial equilibrium model to illustrate how a Pigouvian tax could achieve the socially optimal level of incarceration. Using a Pigouvian Tax to Reduce Incarceration.pdf

The $80 billion spent annually on corrections is frequently cited as the cost of incarceration, but this figure considerably underestimates the true cost of incarceration by ignoring important social costs. These include costs to incarcerated persons, families, children, and communities. This study draws on a burgeoning area of scholarship to assign monetary values to twenty-two different costs, which yield an aggregate burden of one trillion dollars. The Economic Burden of Incarceration in the US.pdf


Veeh, C. A., Tropodi, S. J., Pettus-Davis, C., & Scheyett, A. M. (in press). The interaction of serious mental disorder and race on time to reincarceration. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry.


This Decarceration Strategies Report, Guideposts for the Era of Smart Decarceration, is a result of our efforts to build consensus and articulate priorities that stakeholders have identified as feasible and likely to produce meaningful impact in the era of decarceration. Integral to ensuring that smart decarceration is achieved is that the ideas and needs of multiple stakeholders are represented. This report contains a set of guideposts and action steps for stakeholders identified over a three staged process of soliciting input from 307 advocates, practitioners, reformers, and researchers.  

Evidence-Driven Housing Practices for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals.pdf


The Comprehensive Behavorial Health Manual braids together a potent menu of interventions for practitioners to use in meeting the unique needs of the formerly incarcerated. All the interventions used in the CBHM are based around a theoretical framework that guided their selection in order to systematically target individual factors most likely to both increase well-being and decrease risk of reincarceration. The CBHM also provides a standardized approach that can help practitioners track individuals’ progress over time and make informed treatment decisions.

The Support4Familes Treatment Manual integrates components from four existing evidence-based interventions focused on family skills training. These interventions were designed for families of other high-risk or high-need individuals who are not criminal-justice involved but whom place similar demands on their families.

Support Matters is an intervention to build and srengthen positive social support for men transitioning from prisons to communities.