The effect and expense of redemption reintegration services versus usual reintegration care for young African Canadians discharged from incarceration
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African Canadians comprise 2.5% of the population, but represent 9.5% of federal inmates - an increase of 80% since 2003-2004. Recidivism among federal inmates is high (about 40%). This paper outlines the findings, at 9 months after enrolment during 2011-2012, of a randomised controlled trial testing the effectiveness and cost of Redemption Reintegration Services (RRS), a culturally specific, multi-level intervention for young African Canadian former inmates. Retention at 9 months was 95% of those randomised (n = 115 per group) to RRS (n = 114) or usual reintegration services (n = 105) offered by the municipality. The primary outcomes were recidivism and service costs. Mediating and moderating measures were Personality Strengths, Developmental Assets, Meaning in Life, the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth, the Youth Behaviour Checklist and Neighbourhood Vitality. Compared with the usual care group, the RRS group showed significant improvements in: self-reported Personality Strengths, Developmental Assets, the presence and search for Meaning in Life, social and individual risk factors, behaviour, and life events such as obtaining stable housing and enrolling in school. At 9 months, RRS participants generated significantly lower per person per annum expenditures for law enforcement services, housing services and total direct costs. Among RRS participants, 3.5% reported being re-charged for offences in the previous 9 months compared with 45.7% of the usual care group. The 2010-2011 average annual cost per person for incarceration was $114,364. The 48 individuals in the usual care group and 4 in RRS would generate costs of $5,489,472 and $457,456, respectively - a $5 million difference. We conclude that, at 9 months, RRS is more effective and less expensive than usual reintegration services for young African Canadians.
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