The Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative: The Basics

Sidebar to the article Improving Access to Services for Female Offenders Returning to the Community by Marie Garcia with Nancy Ritter

SVORI was an unprecedented national response to the challenges of prisoner re-entry.[1] Funded by the U.S. Departments of Justice, Labor, Education, Housing and Urban Development, and Health and Human Services, SVORI provided $100 million in funding to improve the criminal justice, employment, education, health and housing outcomes for people returning to the community after prison.

Beginning in 2003, 69 agencies in the U.S. received $500,000-$2 million over a three-year period. There was little federal guidance for the development of re-entry programs, although the agencies had to offer a three-phase continuum of services beginning during incarceration, intensifying just before release and during the first few months post-release, and continuing for several years. Therefore, the 89 programs developed under SVORI varied considerably in approach, services provided and target populations.

NIJ funded RTI International and the Urban Institute to evaluate the impact of SVORI. The evaluation assessed:

  • Whether SVORI programs, compared with "treatment as usual," increased prisoners' access to pre-release services.
  • Whether SVORI participants continued to receive more services than non-SVORI participants upon release.
  • Whether SVORI participants experienced better outcomes than non-SVORI participants on measures of employment, education, housing, relationships, substance abuse, physical and mental health, and recidivism.

The multi-year, multisite evaluation included an implementation assessment, impact evaluation and economic analysis. The final report was published in 2009 in six volumes.

In fiscal year 2010, NIJ awarded $401,670 to RTI to reexamine data collected in the original SVORI evaluation and supplemental data. The project will attempt to determine what worked and for whom. Findings are expected in 2012.


[note 1] Lattimore, Pamela K., and Christy A. Visher, The Multi-site Evaluation of SVORI: Summary and Synthesis (pdf, 176 pages), Final report to the National Institute of Justice, grant number 2004-RE-CX-0002, April 2010, NCJ 230421.

Date Created: March 26, 2012