Individual interventions directed toward education, housing, mental health, substance abuse treatment, and employment also are effective strategies to reduce recidivism and aid in the successful reintegration of ex-offenders into the community. Many offenders who are under community supervision live in the same economically depressed and socially disorganized communities that they did before prison . Thus, many need help with basic human necessities, such as a place to live, personal safety, nourishment, and companionship. While these specific needs are not in and of themselves criminogenic, the pressure put on an offender for these essentials can negatively impact their ability to engage in programs necessary to bring about change. Therefore, the most successful strategies to reentry often focus on changing attitudes and behaviors (RNR and CBT) while at the same time addressing the basic human needs necessary to clear the path toward program engagement and change.
Educational performance and functionality are identified as important to ex-offenders’ ability to be successful. Many offenders have low levels of education and many are functionally illiterate (Petersilia, 2003). This often prevents individuals from fully engaging in treatment or employment. There is sufficient scientific evidence that educational and vocational programs delivered in prison and in the community reduce recidivism and increase employment opportunities. For instance, in a meta-analysis, including educational and vocational programs, Wilson, Gallagher, and MacKenzie found that basic education programs were associated with lower recidivism rates (41% vs. 50%) compared to those programs that did not offer any educational opportunities. The differences in recidivism were even greater for college-level programs (37% vs. 50%) and vocational training (39% vs. 50%). Similarly, work release and vocational training programs are effective in reducing recidivism and improving work-related skills for ex-offenders.