This report — a detailed how-to guide for improving release planning procedures — spells out the eight basic needs of all exiting prisoners and identifies some of the main challenges that correction agencies face in addressing each need. Even more, it gives readers specific recommendations for satisfying each exit-day essential to ensure that an individual’s transition from incarceration goes as smoothly as possible.
The depth and breadth of discharge planning varies widely from one correction agency to the next
Findings & Stats
Reentry vs. Release
Reentry planning begins when an individual is admitted to prison and extends long after their exit date. Release planning represents a finite component of this broader process and focuses on the moment of release and the immediate days and weeks that follow.
An exiting prisoner needs at least $109 to pay for food, transportation and shelter during the first few days following his or her release, according to the Urban Institute.
Three ways that correction agencies can help prisoners establish a support system come release day are: 1) provide a handbook of community resources; 2) notify family members of their loved one’s release date and plan; and 3) loop in relevant community organizations within 24 hours of release.
Correction agencies should review safe and affordable housing options — and ensure that a bed is available — with the expectation that an exiting prisoner will need such accommodations for at least 24 hours following his or her release.
Employment is a critical component of long-term reintegration success, say experts. Correction agencies should refer exiting prisoners to job opportunities and relay a releasee’s skills, challenges and credentials to organizations invested in workforce development.
Correction agencies should give each exiting inmates contact information for a care provider in their destination community as well as a 45-day supply of any necessary medications.
Information at the Ready
This report’s appendices are rich with details. Readers can view six case studies of release planning best practices, results from the Urban Institute’s discharge planning survey and 49 state-specific scans of practice.
Statements & Quotations
The moment of release represents a critical point in time that can make or break an inmate’s successful reintegration into society.
No one should leave prison without someone immediately available to support them.