In the News
A group of independent researchers with Florida State University’s Institute for Justice Reform and Development has announced their latest findings to determine the best practices for individuals re-entering our communities after serving their time. The research informs the work of Safe Streets & Second Chances, a first-of-its-kind re-entry initiative launched last year in Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania and Kentucky. A recent report details the greatest challenges to enacting reentry reform.
The event, with nearly 100 guests in attendance, featured spoken-word artist Lamont Carey of Washington, D.C., and Bill Rone, a re-entry specialist, who was incarcerated three times during his lifetime for drug crimes. Rone also is a member of the inaugural class of Post-Master’s Fellows at IJRD.
Carey and Rone shared their personal experiences with the criminal justice system and the many ways in which their lives, families and communities were and forever will be impacted. The event concluded with facilitated discussion and a question-and-answer session with Pettus-Davis, Carey and Rone. “Transforming approaches to criminal justice is the civil rights issue of our time, it is the human rights issue of our time, it is the justice issue of our time and it is the liberty issue of our time,” Pettus-Davis said.
"More and more employers are realizing that second chance hiring is not only good for their businesses but also good for society as inmates with meaningful jobs are far less likely to return to criminal activity," writes John Koufos, national director of reentry initiatives at Right On Crime and an integral member of Safe Streets and Second Chances. "As a former prisoner myself, this initiative is personal to me. When behind bars, no one asked me for money – but nearly everyone asked me for a job."
A first of its kind, the Post-Master’s Fellowship is the only fellowship in the nation that provides master’s level social workers in-depth, hands-on training opportunities with criminal justice-involved individuals and families. Fellows develop specialized and highly sought-after skills that provide an excellent foundation for the next steps of their career.
In a heart-wrenching letter, Carrie Pettus-Davis, IJRD's Executive Director, describes how the existence of a 17-year gap between scientific innovation and actual changes to policy and practice directly affects her family. The report details the steps she and her team are taking to accelerate the scientific process and improve outcomes.
In a review of Carrie Pettus-Davis' edited text, Smart Decarceration, Christopher Slobogin notes, "Perhaps most distinctive about the book is the inclusion of chapters from formerly incarcerated individuals. Ronald Simpson-Bey, who spent 27 years in prison, asserts that 'Those closest to the problems are closest to the solutions' (p. 55). His chapter and that of Glenn Martin, another ex-prisoner, detail the impediments they faced after release. But the primary focus of both chapters is to push for heavy involvement of such individuals in leadership positions, not only with respect to the design and implementation of re-entry programs and release-decision-making practices, but also in the manner in which police and prosecutors carry out their roles."
Experts say the boost the White House can provide will help the formerly incarcerated stay out of prison. But they also need help from businesses, service providers, churches and religious groups in their neighborhoods, said Carrie Pettus-Davis, executive director of the Institute for Justice Research and Development at Florida State University. “It is critically important that as many reentry supports that can be put into place are put into place,” she said.
Carrie Pettus-Davis and her research team at the Institute for Justice Research and Development have embarked on a revolutionary approach to research and evidence driven reentry reform for formerly incarcerated individuals. More than 95% of incarcerated individuals are eventually released back into their communities, which translates into approximately 12,000 people being released from state and federal prisons weekly. Learn more about the work of IJRD and their signature project, the 5-Key Model for Reentry. "What is most exciting to me about this research is that we are analyzing our data as we go," explained Pettus-Davis. "This allows us to learn in real-time about how to adjust the 5-Key Model based on the feedback we receive from study participants and research team members implementing the program during the course of the study."
IJRD is featured on pages 6-7.
The Institute for Justice Research and Development (IJRD) was founded and is directed by Carrie Pettus-Davis, Associate Professor at FSU and CSD Faculty Director of the Smart Decarceration Initiative. Unique from traditional academic research centers, IJRD applies an innovative trans-sector approach, bringing together various disciplines to address complex criminal justice issues. “We partner with prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, departments of correction, probation and parole officers, community service providers, formerly incarcerated individuals and scholars among disciplines from social work and law to public health and computer science,” Pettus-Davis notes. “Criminal justice reform is the civil rights issue of our time and finding solutions means we need to bring everyone to the table.”
The Florida State University College of Social Work celebrated its new research entity, the Institute for Justice Research and Development at the Augustus B. Turnbull III Florida State Conference Center Thursday, April 18. More than 100 people gathered to learn about the newest multidisciplinary research institute to find a home at FSU. The institute’s mission is to advance science, policy and practice to improve the well-being of individuals, families and communities impacted by the criminal justice system.
“We currently have millions of people incarcerated in jails and prisons in the United States,” said Carrie Pettus-Davis, founder and executive director of IJRD. “Right now, we are at a unique moment in history where, as a country, we have the moral will, the fiscal will and the political will to identify data-driven solutions to reduce the number of people who come into the criminal justice system every year and to ensure our communities are healthier and safer because we have better prepared individuals re-entering our communities to be successful.”