Reentry and Disability
by LaWanda Cook, PhD, CRC
Reentry refers to the exiting of individuals from involuntary, out-of-home placement/involvement in one or more systems (adult or family court cases/oversight, child and family services, diversional, correctional and alternative placement settings, etc.), and efforts to reintegrate them into former settings (school, work/economic, home, and/or community), while also reducing the risk of recidivism through appropriate resources, services, and supports. Reentry can be challenging for anyone who has been involved with the criminal-legal system, and can be especially challenging when the individual also has a disability.
Disability is an important intersectional identity in juvenile justice trends. Youth, adolescents, and young adults with disabilities are dramatically overrepresented in justice settings, and often require more intense and individualized services during and after justice involvement. Overall, this group experiences higher rates of recidivism and poorer post-release education, employment, and independent living outcomes. Continuity of care and transition into quality, evidence-informed, outcomes-based reentry services is an important objective in both policy and practice. It is with these realities in mind that the Y-ReCONNECTS community of practice (CoP) undertakes its work.
The Y-ReCONNECTS CoP is a system change initiative designed to improve life outcomes for justice-involved youth with intellectual, developmental, and other disabilities, through centering the voices of those most impacted, treating each person as an individual, ensuring dignity of choice, and continually examining how the ways in which we think about and work with young people with disabilities influences outcomes. As a community of practice, three interagency county-level teams: Monroe, Tioga, and Warren, in collaboration with the Cornell project team will learn about and implement promising and best practices in their work with youth with disabilities. These efforts, which will include training and leadership opportunities as Reentry Ambassadors for both professionals and youth, will benefit young people in these counties, offer breakthrough ideas for innovations in reentry and provide useful insights for the rest of NY State and beyond.
You are welcome to use the resources on this site. May they inspire you to think, ask questions, share with others, and try new approaches to support young people with disabilities in your community.
We invite you to reimagine reentry with us!
If you would like to know more about this project or our other work related to justice involved youth, please contact us.