Evaluation of the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative

NIJ funded a multiyear, multisite evaluation of programs funded under a collaborative federal effort — the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative (SVORI). The goal of the initiative, which started in 2003, was to improve reentry outcomes along five dimensions: criminal justice, employment, education, health and housing.

The purposes of the evaluation, initiated in 2004, were to determine the extent to which participation in SVORI programs improved access to reentry services and programs and resulted in improved outcomes in the areas of housing, education, employment and criminal behavior.[1]

On this page find:

Findings on Access to Reentry Services and Programs

Participation in SVORI programming increased access to reentry services and programs. For example, SVORI program participants were significantly more likely to have reentry plans upon release. The provision of such services, however, significantly decreased after release. This finding was supported by self-report survey data collected from program participants and directors.

Post-Release Outcomes

Results also showed that, compared to non-SVORI participants, SVORI participants showed no discernible differences on outcomes with respect to recidivism, housing, substance abuse, and physical and mental health.

Challenges for Returning Offenders

Offenders face important challenges upon returning to their communities. These challenges include finding suitable housing and employment and obtaining affordable health care (including substance abuse treatment and mental health counseling). Results from the SVORI evaluation support the notion that successful reentry of returning offenders cannot be tied to one process (such as, in this example, the provision of services).

For a more detailed overview of findings from the SVORI evaluation, see The Multi-site Evaluation of SVORI: Summary and Synthesis (pdf, 176 pages).

What Works for Whom? Ongoing Follow-up Research

In 2009, RTI was awarded funds competitively to complete secondary data analysis on data collected under the multisite SVORI evaluation to identify those programs and services funded under SVORI that improved reentry outcomes for released prisoners. Of particular importance were two questions: "What works?" and "For whom?"

Results indicated that many of the specific reentry services had no effect on housing, employment, substance use or recidivism outcomes, and in some cases the effect actually was deleterious rather than beneficial. However, there SVORI program participation had significant effects on arrests following release. SVORI program participation was associated with a 14 percent reduction in arrests for adult men, 48 percent reduction for adult women, and 25 percent reduction for juvenile males over the fixed follow-up periods.

Read the full report Prisoner Reentry Services: What Worked for SVORI Evaluation Participants?" (pdf, 560 pages).

Detailed Reports and Dataset From the SVORI Evaluation

The multisite SVORI evaluation produced numerous reports that provide in-depth information on different aspects and findings of the evaluation. Information about specific topics can be found in these reports:

NIJ has released data from the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative (SVORI) Multi-site Impact Evaluation. Learn more and apply for access to the data.

Learn more about SVORI and NIJ's evaluation.


[note 1] In 2004, NIJ awarded $10,127,061 to Research Triangle Institute International (RTI) to conduct an evaluation of SVORI across the 69 grantee sites. RTI partnered, through a subcontract, with the Urban Institute. The final reports from the evaluation were released in December 2009. See the final reports from the evaluation.

Date Modified: January 24, 2014