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.
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.
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:
“The Impact of Prison Reentry Services on Short-Term Outcomes: Evidence from a Multisite Evaluation” — This article reports results from the NIJ-funded SVORI evaluation were published in Evaluation Review. Researchers Pam Lattimore and Christy Visher found that post-release, re-entry programs had modest, short-term positive outcomes across multiple domains, including housing, jobs and substance abuse. Offenders reported committing fewer crimes; this effect, however, was not statistically significant.
"Prisoner Reentry Services: What Worked for SVORI Evaluation Participants?" (pdf, 560 pages) — This report presents results of a secondary analysis of SVORI data. The original data were augmented with updates from administrative records for arrests and incarcerations and used to examine the questions of “what works, for whom, and for how long?” in prisoner reentry programs.
"Prisoner Reentry Experiences of Adult Males: Characteristics, Service Receipt, and Outcomes of Participants in the SVORI Multi-site Evaluation" (pdf, 205 pages) — This report presents information on the characteristics, service receipt and outcomes of adult males who participated in the SVORI evaluation.
"Prisoner Reentry Experiences of Adult Females: Characteristics, Service Receipt, and Outcomes of Participants in the SVORI Multi-site Evaluation" (pdf, 180 pages) — This report presents information on the characteristics, service receipt and outcomes of adult females who participated in the evaluation.
"Reentry Experiences of Confined Juvenile Offenders: Characteristics, Service Receipt, and Outcomes of Juvenile Male Participants in the SVORI Multi-site Evaluation" (pdf, 174 pages) — This report presents information on the characteristics, service receipt and outcomes of juvenile males who participated in the evaluation.
"An Economic Evaluation of the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative" (pdf, 89 pages) —This report provides a detailed analysis of costs of programming before release and a cost-benefit analysis that reviews costs and benefits both before and after release for five programs.
"The Multi-site Evaluation of SVORI: Methodology and Analytic Approach" (pdf, 447 pages) — This companion report to the reports above documents the methods and analytic approaches for the SVORI multisite evaluation. It is a companion to the reports above.
"National Portrait of SVORI" — This report presents the preliminary assessment of all 69 sites funded under the SVORI multisite evaluation.
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.
Description of the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative
In 2003, the U.S. Departments of Justice, Labor, Education, Housing and Urban Development, and Health and Human Services provided more than $100 million for state programs that facilitate the reentry of adult and juvenile offenders to communities from prisons or juvenile detention facilities.
This funding stream, known as the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative (SVORI), was a collaborative federal effort to improve reentry outcomes along the following dimensions: (1) criminal justice, (2) employment, (3) education, (4) health, and (5) housing.
Sixty-nine sites received between $500,000 and $2 million over 3 years to develop or expand programs that offered integrated supervision and services to offenders. The objective of the initiative was to promote productive social roles for released offenders and to reduce the likelihood of their return to crime and imprisonment. The initiative required a multiagency strategy for successfully moving prisoners from correctional control to the community.
SVORI had four specific objectives:
- Improve the quality of life and self-sufficiency of released offenders through employment, housing and family and community involvement.
- Improve the health of released offenders by addressing substance use and physical and mental health problems.
- Reduce recidivism through services, supervision and monitoring.
- Promote systemwide changes through multiagency collaboration and better case-management strategies.
NIJ's Evaluation of the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative
In 2004, NIJ funded a multiyear, multisite evaluation of SVORI programs. It was the largest evaluation funded by NIJ to date. The grant was awarded to Research Triangle Institute International (RTI) and its subcontractor, the Urban Institute, to conduct an evaluation of SVORI across the 69 grantee sites. The SVORI evaluation examined the relationship between access to reentry programming and a number of outcomes including housing, employment and recidivism in multiple programs in various states across the U.S. Subsequent analyses included data on adult males, adult females and juvenile boys.
Research questions were designed to determine the extent to which:
- SVORI led to more coordinated planning and integrated services among partner agencies.
- SVORI program participants received more individualized and comprehensive services than comparison subjects.
- SVORI program participants demonstrated better outcomes than comparison subjects.
- The benefits derived from reentry programs outweighed the costs.
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[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