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About

The What Works in Reentry Clearinghouse is a “one-stop shop” for research on the effectiveness of a wide variety of reentry programs and practices. It was developed for the National Reentry Resource Center by The Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Urban Institute, with funding provided by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance through the Second Chance Act.

What does What Works include?

Before research studies can be included in What Works they are evaluated on their focus and methodology.

Focus

To be included in What Works, a study must evaluate how a particular program, practice, or policy affects at least one of a number of relevant outcomes (e.g., recidivism, substance use, housing, employment, or mental health) for people returning to the community from incarceration.

Methodology

To be included in What Works, a study must use either a random assignment or quasi-experimental method with matched groups or statistical controls for differences between groups. The sample size must be at least 30 in both the treatment and comparison groups, and the study must have been conducted by an independent researcher or published in a peer-reviewed journal. Research studies employing strictly qualitative methods aren’t included in What Works.

How does What Works rate research?

Once a research study is included in What Works, that study’s methodological rigor is further evaluated and rated either Basic or High. All studies that meet the methodological requirements for inclusion in What Works are automatically at the Basic level; studies that meet an additional set of requirements are rated as High. (Occasionally, a study may meet all the criteria for classification as Basic or High but still lack rigor—e.g., because of poor implementation fidelity. In these rare instances, a study that meets High-level criteria may stay rated Basic, and a study that meets Basic-level criteria may not be included in What Works at all.)

Each What Works study is also evaluated on how the intervention it researched was shown to affect participant outcomes. If a given study showed that Intervention A significantly lowered rearrest rates, for example, that study would receive the rating Strong evidence of effectiveness regarding recidivism outcomes. Studies may also be rated: Modest evidence of effectiveness; No evidence of an effect; Modest evidence of a harmful effect; and Strong evidence of a harmful effect.