In 2007, 49% of individuals released to Marion County from Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) returned within three years, which is substantially higher than Indiana’s statewide recidivism rate of 38%. What’s more, the re-arrest rate in Marion County was 55%, which includes people who were arrested but did not return to IDOC. City and state officials began to take notice and in 2008, through a collaboration between the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Indianapolis Mayor’s Office, and the Governor’s Office, the Leadership in Action Program (LAP) was formed. Community Solutions was hired to play an active role in the design and implementation of the LAP because of their experience in the criminal justice arena and their proven track record helping organizations move efficiently toward a targeted result.
The LAP used a Results-Based Accountability (RBA) framework, a data driven process that works in the reverse. The targeted result is identified in the beginning of the process using data that indicates how you are doing on the issue and what the impact is on children, families, and the community as a whole. The LAP brought together individuals in the community who were passionate about the issue of re-entry and whose sphere of influence would allow them to implement system, policy, and program changes related to re-entry. The group included representation from public safety, state and community corrections, county jail, housing, health, education, substance abuse, children and families, employment, victims’ services and business. Community Solutions facilitated and staffed the group and trained members in RBA to enhance their ability to sustain the work.
The first step was to establish the group’s targeted result: “all adult offenders in Marion County are successfully reintegrated into their community.” Then the members asked: “how will we know if we are successful?” The group identified 6- and 12-month re-arrest and recidivism rates in Marion County as their indicators of success. Working back from ends to means, members began to identify evidence-based strategies that would help them achieve the targeted result. The strategies were prioritized based on the ability of people in the room to take action on them. Unlike many committees and groups, the LAP avoided hierarchy (no executive members or committees) and adhered to a consensus-based decision-making model.
In 2012, the LAP transitioned to the Marion County Re-entry Coalition (MCRC) and continued using the RBA framework to implement strategies and system changes to impact the targeted result. In 2013, the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council convened a Re-entry Study Commission to examine policies and procedures relating to the re-entry of ex-offenders into the workplace, the family unit, and the community as a whole. Over the course of several months, this local policy body heard presentations about the challenges faced by ex-offenders from several MCRC members, ex-offenders themselves, state and city criminal justice leaders, agency heads, and other key stakeholders. The work of the Re-entry Study Commission was accelerated because it leveraged the strong progress that had already been made by the MCRC. From that process, the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council developed 26 recommendations related to a variety of re-entry issues. They named the MCRC as the agency responsible to move the recommendations forward.
Recently, the work of the MCRC led to the City County Council’s adoption of Ban the Box for the City of Indianapolis and its contractors. Additionally, the Indianapolis Housing Agency (IHA) and other housing providers have re-assessed housing restrictions that create unnecessary burdens for individuals returning to the community. These policy changes were included a in recent report outlining MCRC’s progress on implementing the 26 recommendations outlined in the 2013 City-County Council Re-entry Study Commission.
Overall, indicator data show the MCRC’s work is having an impact on re-arrests and returns to IDOC. Though a 2-3% reduction in returns and re-arrests might not seem like much, a study by the Center for Criminal Justice Research at the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs estimated a cost savings of $1.5 – $2.6 million for every 1% reduction in recidivism.
MCRC’s use of the RBA framework has enhanced their ability to ensure that “all adult offenders in Marion County are successfully reintegrated into their community.” If you are interested in finding out what RBA can do for your program, organization, or community, visit our contact page or connect with us through Facebook (www.facebook.com/CommunitySolutionsIndy) or twitter (@GetToResults).