Nudges to Improve Prisoner Re-entry Outcomes

More than 700,000 youth and adults leave the U.S. juvenile and criminal justice systems each year.

Yet one-third to one-half of incarcerated youth are re-arrested within 12 months of release, and 40 percent of incarcerated adults are re-arrested within 3 years. Individuals in the criminal justice system are disproportionately boys and young men of color; improving educational and employment outcomes among this population can help reduce recidivism as well as broader racial/ethnic socioeconomic disparities.

There is little rigorous evidence on how to improve re-entry outcomes for incarcerated individuals, despite tremendous public interest in helping this population. One challenge facing incarcerated individuals as they transition back into society is identifying and connecting to resources, such as affordable housing and childcare, that support a stable transition back into society. We are working with Edovo to develop and implement a personalized, interactive tablet-based re-entry module that supports prisoners to plan a course of action for education or stable employment upon their release. The module will ask inmates questions about their education and employment background and goals, and will additionally provide customized content and resources to address priority concerns for each individual (e.g. finding housing).


Through the incentivized module we will also collect contact information for inmates after release and will provide ongoing content and nudges to keep them on track after they transition into their communities. We will reach out to recently released individuals via text message to encourage them to make use of specific community-based resources that offer support in education, employment, and other areas inmates identified in the transition module. The text messages will provide information about where students can seek assistance completing a G.E.D. or applying for college and financial aid in their community. We will also send information about local employment opportunities that are customized based on an individual’s background, experience, and conviction.

Read more about the project.

Read a press release on the project launch.