It is estimated in the United States that one in every 31 adults are currently incarcerated, on probation, or on parole.  This is the highest rate of involvement in the criminal justice system in the world.  These figures have risen exponentially since the 1980s, due to the increased incarceration of non-violent drug offenders.  While more than 70% of this population reside in the civilian community, two-thirds of prisoners released will be re-arrested and more than half will return to prison within three years of their release.  The high rate of recidivism is tied to many factors including mental and physical health disparities, substance abuse, access to affordable housing and homelessness, access to education and employment, and the breakdown of family and community support. These factors were exacerbated in Washington D.C. during the 1980s and 1990s because of the city’s lack of regional revenue to fund re-entry programs. In reaction to these conditions, The Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA), a federal agency was established in Washington D.C. in 1997 to assist ex-offenders and increase the likelihood of their successful reintegration into society. Today the Washington DC Metropolitan Area still faces high recidivism rates as programs intended to aid re-entry into the system have been progressively cut.

In 2008 the federal government introduced legislation to try and reverse this troubling trend of recidivism by passing the “Second Chance Act”, which authorized federal grants to agencies aimed at reducing recidivism.  This legislation offers a step toward reducing prison populations and increasing the odds for successful re-entry, yet it is currently at risk of not being re-authorized.  Despite ongoing efforts by criminal justice groups aimed to increase funding of re-entry programs, greater emphasis needs to be placed on reentry programs within correctional facilities themselves.