Worcester Initiative for Supported Reentry (WISR) – Synergy Initiative Round 3

The Health Foundation provided over $2.3 million to Advocates, Inc. for WISR, Wiser Men and Wiser Women to reduce recidivism among men and women who were formerly incarcerated, thereby improving public safety and public health. Key elements in achieving this goal included access to social and health services, housing placement, and employment readiness and job placement.

  • The goal of these projects was to reduce recidivism among men and women who were formerly incarcerated, thereby improving public safety and public health. Key elements in achieving this goal included access to social and health services, housing placement, employment readiness and job placement.
  • The recidivism rate among WISR participants three years post-release was 20.8%, a reduction of 47% relative to a historical comparison group; a savings of more than $375,000 for a 59% return on investment based on one-year incarceration costs.
  • 96% of participants were housed immediately upon release, and the remaining 4% were housed within one day of release. 97% of participants in need of Medicaid insurance were enrolled. 93% of participants referred to substance abuse treatment services accessed them and 75% of participants referred to mental health services accessed those services.
  • The Worcester County Sheriff’s Office also received $750,000 from the Bureau of Justice Assistance in 2014, one of only seven grants awarded nationally, to implement Wiser Men, a region-wide reentry program modeled after WISR. The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office received a Bureau of Justice Assistance $244,000 grant in July 2018 to implement the WISR model.
  • Advocacy efforts with state officials resulted in reentry programming being included in the state’s 2018 Criminal Justice Reform legislation. The state allocated $7 million from FY19-21 to pilot reentry services in Worcester and Middlesex Counties.
  • Senate Bill #2021, “An Act relative to motor vehicle license suspension” was signed into law in March 2016, thereby repealing the automatic suspension of drivers’ licenses and accompanying fines for people convicted of a drug crime.

WISR Final Report January 2017