Office launched as new report on Philadelphia reentry services is released

PHILADELPHIA – Mayor Kenney today announced the creation of the Office of Reentry Partnerships, which will be responsible for the development and implementation of a comprehensive reentry strategy for the City.

“This new office represents a renewed commitment by our Administration to take a hard look at what we can do differently to better support the formerly incarcerated,” said Mayor Kenney.  “We know that breaking the cycle of recidivism will strengthen neighborhoods, help us decrease our city’s pervasive poverty rate, and improve the quality of life for all Philadelphians.”

This announcement coincides with the release of “Philadelphia’s Reentry Services Landscape,” a report from the Philadelphia Reentry Coalition, a group of 120 Philadelphia agencies and organizations committed to reducing recidivism. Their report, co-authored by Temple University’s Department of Criminal Justice, is a comprehensive survey of more than 100 programs that serve people with criminal justice system involvement. The report reflects the Coalition’s strategic objectives of increasing the availability of data about reentry in Philadelphia and allocating resources to better match services to needs. The report’s findings suggest there are large gaps in Philadelphia’s reentry services, and indicate a clear need to align fragmented and siloed efforts by stakeholders across the city.

“Creating the Office of Reentry Partnerships helps us move forward with work that is critical to our efforts to improve public safety,” said Vanessa Garrett Harley, Deputy Managing Director for Criminal Justice and Public Safety. “Reentry is a core consideration as we continue to safely reduce our jail population, as well as a pillar of the City’s Roadmap to Safer Communities initiative to reduce gun violence. The Office will be charged with elevating and reorganizing reentry efforts within City government, and developing partnerships to ensure that formerly incarcerated Philadelphians have access to the resources and opportunities they need in order to thrive in their communities.”

“We are excited to share research that paints a picture of reentry services in Philadelphia, which can shape how we move forward together to provide stronger supports as people come home from incarceration,” said Caterina Roman, an Associate Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at Temple University who is a Reentry Coalition member and co-author of the report.

More on the Office of Reentry Partnerships:

The Office of Reentry Partnerships will consolidate staff currently engaged in separate reentry efforts into one central team, bringing together the entire Mayor’s Office of Re-Integration Services (RISE) and individuals from the Office of Criminal Justice (OCJ). RISE, which has in recent years been managed by the Philadelphia Department of Prisons, will now be integrated into the Office of Reentry Partnerships under the umbrella of the Managing Director’s Office to align with the overall reentry strategy. The Office will focus heavily on partnerships, including working with City departments to take a holistic approach to reentry services, and bolstering support for the Philadelphia Reentry Coalition, which was previously staffed by OCJ.

The Mayor announced that Bianca van Heydoorn will serve as the Senior Director of the Office of Reentry Partnerships, beginning August 26.  She most recently served as the Director of Community Engagement and Research Application at the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice at Temple University. “It is an honor to take on this new role within the Kenney administration and chart the path forward in service of—and in partnership with—the residents of Philadelphia,” said van Heydoorn.

Prior to her work at Temple, van Heydoorn served as the Director of Educational Initiatives at the Prisoner Reentry Institute at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where she led the City University of New York’s only college-in-prison and reentry programs. van Heydoorn has consulted at the local, state and national levels, including for New York City Department of Corrections, the City and State University systems of New York, and for the Obama Administration’s Second Chance Pell and Beyond the Box initiatives. van Heydoorn holds a master’s degree in criminal justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a bachelor’s degree in correctional sociology from the City University of New York and her writing has been featured in the Journal on Ethnicity in Criminal Justice.

Additionally, the Managing Director’s Office is pleased to announce that Aviva Tevah, Director of the Philadelphia Reentry Coalition, has been promoted to the Director of Policy and Planning for the Office of Reentry Partnerships. In this capacity, she will continue to support the Reentry Coalition and facilitate increased collaboration with City stakeholders. Tevah will also lead strategic planning for other initiatives that will be spearheaded by the Office of Reentry Partnerships, including Neighborhood Resource Centers.

The goals of the Office of Reentry Partnerships are to:

  • Set a clear vision and direction for a measurable citywide approach to improving reentry outcomes
  • Drive and sustain an unprecedented level of coordination between the local government, other government partners, service providers, education and training programs, employers, and community members; and
  • Ensure that City reentry initiatives are research- and data-driven

More on “Philadelphia’s Reentry Services Landscape” report: 

This report is the result of research conducted by the Philadelphia Reentry Coalition, which increases communication, facilitates collaboration, and builds capacity to create a stronger reentry support network for Philadelphia’s returning citizens. The Coalition’s 120 members include community-based organizations, service providers, researchers, advocates, returning citizens, faith-based groups, and local, state, and federal government agencies. While the report does not capture all reentry programs and reentry-related resources available in the city, the 118 programs included in the survey data (run by 71 organizations) do provide a meaningful sample from which to obtain a general sense of organizational capacity, services, strengths, gaps, and needs of the reentry services landscape.

Some of the key takeaways of the report include:

  • Wide-ranging stakeholder participation in the Reentry Coalition reflects a shared commitment to aligning reentry efforts and goals.
  • Many reentry and related programs are collectively serving upwards of 36,000 people annually across the city.
  • Existing untapped capacity could serve more people: some programs have no waitlists and could serve more people with the resources they already have.
  • Many reentry programs lack, but could benefit from, formal partnerships with criminal justice agencies.
  • The ecosystem of reentry services is made up of many small programs and small organizations.
  • Across many domain areas, employment support services—not core education and training—are offered most frequently.
  • Key basic survival resources, and some types of education, are among the least frequently offered services.
  • No single funding source drives program alignment; reentry services are supported by multiple funding sources.
  • Stakeholders envision the Reentry Coalition shaping a shared agenda and deepening collaboration to help reentry programs achieve greater impact both individually and collectively.

This report follows “Calculating a Unified Recidivism Rate for Philadelphia,” a report published in March of 2018 by the Reentry Coalition and the Office of Criminal Justice, which (along with the release of an open data set and an interactive data visualization) analyzed new information about people who are released from incarceration to Philadelphia, including basic demographic information and one year re-arrest rates.