Evaluation of Bridges to Life Parole Reentry Program

Project Summary 

Bridges to Life (BTL) is a national program that provides an opportunity for inmates to engage in self-reflection that can lead them to become more self-accountable and responsible. A volunteer coordinator meets weekly with participants in small group circles over the course of 14 weeks.  Discussions focus on accountability, repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. In between sessions, participants read required materials and answer study questions to be discussed in the next small group discussion.

However, BTL’s contact with participants ends when they are released from prison and the program has never tracked its participants in the community to see how they fare after release. The National Police Foundation is evaluating the effectiveness of the BTL program. The study will provide a rigorous assessment of the effectiveness of BTL and highlight obstacles parolees face upon release that could be used to strengthen reentry programs.

 

Methodology

Using parole records, provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, we compared parole violations and new arrests between BTL graduates to a similar group of non-participants. We employed a quasi-experimental design using propensity scores to match 296 BTL participants with 296 similar parolees out of a pool of 7,622 who had not participated in the program. We compared reincarceration rates after one year and after 3-3 ½ years. The results of this analysis generally support the proposition that parolees who participated in the BTL program had lower rates of reincarceration than those who did not participate.

In the spring of 2021, we will finish conducting in-depth qualitative interviews with 20 BTL graduates to determine whether and how the program has helped them to overcome obstacles to readjusting to life in the community.

 

Implications

This is the first formal evaluation of BTL, a national program that has thousands of participants each year. The evaluation will help funders decide whether the program is effective and will provide BTL staff with information to improve the program.

 

Publications 

Forthcoming: The Effect of Bridges to Life on Reincarceration

 

Funding & Collaboration

This study is being funded by the Communities Foundation of Texas.

 

Points of Contact

Rob Davis
Chief Social Scientist
National Police Foundation
rdavis@policefoundation.org
(202) 721-9782 Ext. 182

Maria Valdovinos
Senior Research Associate
National Police Foundation
mvaldovinos@policefoundation.org
(202) 721-9787 Ext. 187

Michael Lebron
Research Assistant
National Police Foundation
mlebron@policefoundation.org
(202) 384-1379 Ext. 120

 

Keywords

Reentry programs, parole, recidivism