The need

Individuals re-entering the community after incarceration face multiple challenges.

An innovative approach to facilitate successful reintegration into the community is the reentry court, a multi-disciplinary judicial-led support system that works with ex-offenders to enhance access to community services and provide a collaborative and proactive approach to supervised release.

In 2010, the US District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania initiated a reentry court, the Reintegration into Society Efforts (RISE) Court Program, which requires a minimum 12 month commitment from participants for the opportunity to reduce probation supervision by 12 months.

At year five of its existence, RISE struggled with a chronically under-enrolled program (capacity of 12–15 participants but an average of three), and a disappointing retention and completion rate.

The solution

RISE engaged IRETA to facilitate a two-year quality improvement program that included the rapid cycle PDSA tool (Plan – Do – Study – Act) with goals of increasing the number of RISE participants, improving retention and improving participant outcomes.

The team developed a participant recruiting strategy that included “upstream” marketing at the halfway house, restructured the program into four distinct phases, and added an informal session with RISE team members and participants between monthly judicial reviews.

The results

All RISE participants are offered a clear and structured four-phase program with parameters agreed-upon by judges, attorneys, probation officers, and other members of the RISE team.

RISE consistently maintains a caseload of 12 participants.