Section 6: Reentry
3 Hours

Lecture Topic TOPIC: REENTRY


There are, then, a number of possible solutions to reducing the juvenile justice system’s over-reliance on the most restrictive placements for these youth. They include:

So let’s assume that all of these things are in place in a particular state or jurisdiction. Interventions that are provided to these youth are risk and need based, with only the most dangerous and troubled being required to participate in residential or institutional programming. The next challenge that we have to address is what happens to these youngsters who are in placement. We talked earlier about how our planning efforts with these juveniles aren’t always very effective, and that as a result, we often end up hanging on to them for too long. Let’s spend a few minutes on the challenge of reentry and aftercare planning.

Use SlideUse Slide #17: Insufficient Planning

Insufficient Reentry and Aftercare Planning

The Importance of Planning for Reentry at the Point of Entry: Starting at Intake

A few minutes ago, we reviewed some of the negative consequences of insufficient reentry and aftercare planning and of keeping juvenile sex offenders in residential or institutional placement for lengthy periods of time. They include exposure to negative peers that may compromise the treatment process and the loss of positive, pro-social connections to their communities and family members. These youth may also “max out” their time and end up back in the community with no or very limited structure and support.

So how can the problem of poor planning be remedied? Let’s talk about what a comprehensive reentry and aftercare plan that promotes the stability of these youth and public safety looks like and what it should include.

An ideal reentry and aftercare planning strategy for juveniles who commit sex offenses relies on early and ongoing assessments during residential or institutional placement. In fact, some agencies and jurisdictions have adopted a “reentry at the point entry”32 approach to the planning process, so transition begins the moment a youth steps through the door of a facility and continues until he is discharged from community supervision and aftercare programming.

The intake process provides an important early opportunity to assess risk and to begin to anticipate the needs of these youth that, if left untended, may become barriers and problems during transition and aftercare.33 The identification of these issues at intake provides institutional or residential staff with an opportunity to prepare a plan early that will help to assure that these youth receive needed services while they are in custody, and to begin to develop a proactive transition and aftercare strategy that guarantees that the youth will not spend more time than is necessary in the residential or institutional setting.

Use SlideUse Slide #18: Key Questions to be Answered

More specifically, the plan developed at intake should be designed to answer the following questions:

Of course, as has been emphasized throughout the training, the risk levels and needs of these youth change over time, so the plan must also be updated accordingly.

And who should be involved in the development of the plan? Ideally, individuals who will be working with the youth both in the residential and institutional setting and as he transitions back to a less intensive level of care. It may not be possible to include all of the community-based stakeholders who will ultimately be involved at the very beginning of the planning process, but it’s key to pull them in as soon as possible so they’re aware of the strategy that has been developed with and so that they can provide feedback and input.

Use SlideUse Slide #19: Elements of a Comprehensive Reentry and Aftercare Plan

The Elements of a Comprehensive Reentry and Aftercare Plan

Let’s talk for a moment about those key issues, concerns, and barriers that must be addressed in the plan. Based on your experiences, what are some examples of them?


You raise a number of very important considerations. Obviously, there are a great many things that we must be thinking about in the context of our planning, and that must happen before the reentry process can be initiated, as well as thereafter. Here are a number of them.

Specialized Treatment Needs

In the session on treatment, we talked about the importance and efficacy of offense-specific interventions for youth who have committed sex offenses. Specialized treatment should begin, but doesn’t have to end, within the confines of a residential or institutional setting. So a critical question to be answered will be what constitutes satisfactory progress prior to release so that treatment can continue in the community? It’s likely that a number of treatment goals will be identified during the reentry and aftercare planning process that must be achieved by the youth in the context of offense-specific treatment prior to release. These may include the development of a realistic relapse prevention plan, among others.

Mental Health Problems

Recognizing that many of these youth have needs that go beyond their sex offending behavior, comprehensive and holistic approaches to treatment and service provision are essential.34 Mental health problems and concerns should, therefore, be a target of all reentry and aftercare plans. It’s likely that acute problems will need to be addressed prior to release, with ongoing services in the community that are informed by the programming provided “inside.”  For juveniles who are prescribed psychotropic medications, residential or institutional practitioners may need to work closely with families and local, community-based mental health professionals to ensure that the youth departs the facility with an adequate supply of medicine or that there is a reasonable plan in place to fill their prescriptions in a timely manner once they are released. Making sure that parents or caregivers are educated about why medication is important, as well as their central role in ensuring that prescriptions remain filled and that the juvenile regularly takes their medication, must also be addressed.

Healthcare Concerns

As you know, in the residential and institutional setting, there are strict requirements regarding healthcare. On occasion, there are youth who are identified as having health–related concerns for the first time while they are in a residential or institutional placement. One problem is that they may have had little or no access to appropriate healthcare services prior to placement. Now that they are receiving good, comprehensive care, a major need will be figuring out how to maintain it after release. Is transferring to private insurance a possibility? Can the youth’s parents or caregivers help to facilitate access to healthcare? For example, if the youth’s family has insurance, it will be necessary to ensure that he is “re-covered” upon release, if the state took over financial responsibility for healthcare during placement. If finances are a concern, can the youth transition back to subsidized care? Or are there medical professionals in the community where he will be living who are willing to offer services at a reduced rate?

Family Issues

We’ve mentioned families, parents, and caregivers several times now as critical partners in the juvenile sex offender management process. Parents and caregivers are probably the most logical community supports that these juveniles have; most youth are dependent on them and most parents or caregivers want to do the right thing for their kids.35 A critical part of the reentry and aftercare planning process is, therefore, to figure out how parents and caregivers can be positioned and equipped to support the transition of their children back to the community.36 To do this, it’s important to do the following:

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