There are many alternatives to incarceration programs classified as Community-Based Corrections, however, few offer a comprehensive service delivery like A Safe Haven, a Chicago-based Social Business Enterprise corrections program where individuals receive substance abuse counseling, mental health services, education, job training, and behavioral therapy while detained, are on probation, or awaiting adjudication. A Safe Haven is home to the Cook County Sheriffs Alternative Treatment Housing Program, a consortium of treatment services and integrated programming that works to keep current and ex-offenders off the streets and out of prison. While other Alternative Treatment Programs do exist, services are often separated and collaborative programming is not available.
The goal of the research is to conduct a longitudinal study which will facilitate research and evaluation on the effects of community-based corrections on nonviolent, incarcerated individuals. Crime and violence continue to be issues plaguing society, and are intrinsically tied to homelessness and poverty; and Chicago has one of the highest rates of crime in the nation—leading to a saturated and financially strained criminal justice system.
A Safe Haven’s mission is to help people transform, aspire, and sustain their lives from homelessness to self-sufficiency with pride and purpose. A Safe Haven (ASH) provides the tools for each individual to overcome root causes of homelessness through a holistic and scalable model that unites families, stabilizes neighborhoods, and creates vibrant, viable communities. ASH provides interim, permanent supportive, and affordable housing, across 40 locations, along with intensive case management, substance abuse treatment, adult education and life skills, job training, placement, and retention services. Over 5,000 individuals are served annually, and 100,000 have received assistance since ASH’s mission origin, in 1994.
To support this research and evaluation initiative, ASH facilitated its own study to test the effectiveness of ASH’s reentry programming on improving recidivism rates. ASH assessed recidivism rates by tracking
former client’s criminal history since discharge from ASH. The data-set reflects all individuals released from Sheridan Correctional Center, Delgado, and Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center to ASH for reentry services from July 1, 2012- June 30, 2013. Using this sample size of 370 ex-offenders we cross-checked all clients against the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) Offender Search, Cook County Jail Inmate Locator, and Federal Bureau of Prisons Inmate Locator. Clients who were found to have any criminal activity, regardless of the offense, within three years of their discharge from ASH were counted as recidivated. In order to better understand the factors impacting an individual’s likelihood of recidivating—or conversely, to better understand the protective factors that enable individuals to effectively reenter society—we ran a series of statistical analysis to test the correlation between given variables and whether an individual recidivated. We found that the recidivism rate for individuals receiving reentry services at ASH was 24%— a dramatic improvement over the State of Illinois average of 51% recidivism.
The study will address the impact of community-based services in terms of recidivism, cost of incarceration, number of sentences, and the economic cost to the correctional system and community. The project will track individuals referred to A Safe Haven’s Cook County Sheriffs Alternative Treatment Housing Program to determine the impact of providing evidence-based screening for behavioral health issues and substance abuse in addition to individual’s access to housing, education level, employment history and qualifications on an individual’s ability to obtain and maintain independent living free of criminal involvement. Further, a cost benefit analysis will be developed to determine which social determinants have the greatest influence on participant’s involvement in the criminal justice system. Through this study we hope to show the positive long-term effect of alternative health and rehabilitation reentry services treatments—both on individuals and the surrounding community. The cost of re-incarceration will be addressed alongside the societal costs/impact to public safety systems, judicial systems, employment, taxes, and violence/crime rates. Finally, the study will track individual participants and measure the effects of supportive services on over-all behavioral outcomes. Items specifically measured may include: improvements in personal/family life, how behavioral health/substance abuse issues are managed, criminal justice involvement, housing stability, and employment retention and progression.
The ASH model takes a comprehensive approach to addressing poverty and inequality, creating real, sustainable community change by starting at the grassroots level. The findings from the research will impact and create real-world solutions and help initiate a paradigm shift in the way our nation addresses the root causes of poverty. The Harvard’s Homelessness Task Force Research members will have access to empirical data provided from A Safe Haven to facilitate formal research which will be used to inform stakeholders on best practices, and allow publication in industry periodicals, journals and dissemination amongst top Social and Human Service agencies nationwide.