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Serving People from Arrest to Reintegration

Mapping Prisoner Reentry: An Action Research Guidebook

  • Organization: The Urban Institute
  • Date Created: Monday, December 04, 2006
  • Submitted: Monday, December 04, 2006
  • Attachment(s): LINK

The Reentry Mapping Network (RMN) is a collaborative effort by community-based organizations and the Urban Institute, designed to create community change through the mapping and analysis of neighborhood-level data on prisoner reentry. RMN partners collect and analyze local data related to incarceration, reentry, and community well-being, and work with their communities, local organizations, and policymakers to develop strategies for addressing prisoner reentry in their regions. This guidebook provides information on how interested parties can understand and address prisoner reentry at the local level through mapping and data analysis. It outlines the concepts and methods underlying the RMN and the experiences of the RMN partners so that other jurisdictions can learn from these experiences and create more successful reentry strategies in their own communities. The guidebook presents this information in three sections:

Section 1: Why Map Prisoner Reentry?

The challenges associated with prisoner reentry are wide-ranging. Mapping can provide valuable information on how prisoner reentry is affecting local communities, and the extent to which existing resources and services are addressing the needs of reentering populations. The RMN employs an action research approach, partnering with community members and local stakeholders to access and analyze reentry data, create effective maps, and develop plans for improving reentry-related outcomes.

Section 2: Creating Reentry Maps

Maps depicting the concentration of released prisoners in the local area are the foundation of any reentry mapping initiative. Reentry mapping partnerships must access data on returning prisoners from state departments of corrections (DOCs) and other criminal justice agencies. This reentry information is supplemented with contextual data on the communities to which prisoners return, as well as data on the services and resources available to meet the needs of former prisoners. After analyzing these data, reentry mapping partners create maps and other products that convey information on the dynamics of prisoner reentry to the public. For maps to be useful, they must follow good design principles to ensure they effectively communicate information and are easy to interpret.

Section 3: Using Reentry Mapping to Promote Community Well-Being

The purpose of obtaining, analyzing, and mapping data on prisoner reentry is to provide information to the public, government officials, policymakers, service providers, former prisoners, and others on the local dynamics of prisoner reentry. These stakeholders can then draw on this information to improve and refine local policy, service delivery, and community responses to reentry. A reentry mapping initiative should form a partnership of local stakeholders, to guide this process of disseminating reentry mapping to improve communities. The partnership can advise on the research, analysis, and production of maps and other products; educate community members and important stakeholders about the findings; and devise and implement strategies to respond to prisoner reentry based on the information gained in the project. A diverse partnership, representing a range of community and institutional perspectives and resources, is ideal, and strong leadership is needed to keep the activities of the partnership coordinated.

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