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Mapping
for Community-Based

Prisoner Reentry Efforts
A Guidebook for Law Enforcement
Agencies and Their Partners

Mapping
for Community-Based
Prisoner Reentry Efforts
A Guidebook for Law Enforcement Agencies
and Their Partners

by Nancy G. La Vigne

The Police Foundation is a national, independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting innovation
and improvement in policing. Established in 1970, the foundation has conducted seminal research in police
behavior, policy, and procedure, and works to transfer to local agencies the best information about practices for
dealing effectively with a range of important police operational and administrative concerns. Motivating all of
the foundation’s efforts is the goal of efficient, humane policing that operates within the framework of democratic principles and the highest ideals of the nation.
The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) was created as a result of the Violent Crime
Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. A component of the Justice Department, the COPS Office mission
is to advance community policing as an effective strategy in communities’ efforts to improve public safety in
jurisdictions of all sizes across the country. Community policing represents a shift from more traditional law
enforcement in that it focuses on prevention of crime and the fear of crime on a very local basis.
This project was supported by Cooperative Agreement #2005-CK-WX-K004 by the U.S. Department of Justice,
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Points of view or opinions contained in this document are
those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of
Justice or the Police Foundation.
© 2006 by the Police Foundation. All rights, including translation into other languages, reserved under the Universal Copyright Convention, the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the
International and Pan American Copyright Conventions. Permission to quote readily granted.
ISBN	 1-884614-22-1
	
978-1-884614-22-4
May 2007

1201 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036-2636
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Washington, D.C. 20530
800-421-6770
E-mail: askCopsRC@usdoj.gov
http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/
Mapping for Community-Based Prisoner Reentry Efforts: A Guidebook for Law Enforcement Agencies
and Their Partners is available online at http://www.policefoundation.org/docs/library.html and
http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/.

Table of Contents

Foreword...................................................................................................................................................... v
Acknowledgments....................................................................................................................................vii
Introduction................................................................................................................................................. 1
What is the Purpose of this Guidebook?................................................................................................. 2
Why Should Police be Involved in Prisoner Reentry?........................................................................... 4
	

Community Policing and Prisoner Reentry..................................................................................... 5

How Can Police Use Mapping in Support of Reentry Efforts?............................................................ 7
	

Where are Former Prisoners Residing?............................................................................................. 7

	

Are Resources and Services Accessible to Those in Need?.......................................................... 16

What Partnerships Should be Forged?.................................................................................................. 19
How Can Reentry Data be Obtained?.................................................................................................... 22
How Should Reentry Maps be Presented?............................................................................................ 24
What are the Obstacles to Reentry Mapping?...................................................................................... 25
	

Data Acquisition................................................................................................................................. 25

	

Data Integration.................................................................................................................................. 25

	

GIS Technology and Expertise.......................................................................................................... 26

	

Lack of Resources............................................................................................................................... 26

	

Public Fears and Media Misrepresentation.................................................................................... 27

How Can Mapping Lead to Action?...................................................................................................... 28
Conclusion................................................................................................................................................. 29
References................................................................................................................................................... 30
Resources.................................................................................................................................................... 31
Biographies of Participants in the Forum on Mapping for Police-Led Prisoner Reentry ............. 33

List of Figures
Figure 1: 	 Sentenced Prisoners Admitted and Released
from Federal and State Prison, 1977–2001........................................................................... 1
Figure 2: 	 List of Participants in the February 2006 Forum on Mapping
for Police-Led Prisoner Reentry ........................................................................................... 2
Figure 3: 	 Locations of Providence Parolees and Probationers
and Crimes by Type in District 7........................................................................................... 8
Figure 4: 	 Population Under Criminal Justice Supervision in
Knox County, Tennessee, 2005............................................................................................... 9

Figure 5: 	 Location of Police-Identified Drug Houses in Knoxville, Tennessee, 2005................... 10
Figure 6: 	 Released Inmate Gang Members by New Jersey Municipality.......................................11
Figure 7: 	 Camden, NJ, Released Gang-Affiliated Inmates............................................................... 12
Figure 8: 	 San Diego County Parolee and Probationer Population
and Reported Property Crime, 2005................................................................................... 13
Figure 9: 	 San Diego County Sex Registrants in Relation to K-8 Schools....................................... 14
Figure 10:	 GPS Positions of One Sex Offender’s Locations Over a 24-Hour Period..................... 15
Figure 11: 	 Distance from Ex-Offender Employment Program Participants to Employers........... 18

iv	

Mapping for Community-Based Prisoner Reentry Efforts

Foreword

In the U.S. today, 7,000,000 Americans are either incarcerated or on probation or parole. Of the
over 650,000 prisoners released each year, two-thirds are likely to be rearrested within three
years. About 75 percent of reentering prisoners have a history of substance abuse, and the
median educational level is the eleventh grade. A shortage of in-prison substance abuse, vocational, and educational programs means that few prisoners receive any rehabilitative care while
incarcerated. Thus, the political, social, and economic impact of prisoner reentry is enormous
as are the challenges to developing successful strategies to address the growing and complex
problems associated with reentry. Clearly, an interdisciplinary, coordinated response from all of
our social and political institutions is necessary.
This report examines how enhanced collaboration between the law enforcement and corrections
communities—specifically, improvement in how data and information are used for planning
and management—can improve both public safety as well as the odds for successful reentry.
The recent growth in the acceptance and implementation of community policing can help local
law enforcement play an important role in the reentry process through both supervision and
support. Instead of relying solely on traditional law enforcement tactics, such as responding to
calls-for-service and making arrests, police today understand the importance of communitypolicing strategies that emphasize prevention, community engagement, problem solving, and
strategic partnerships. The police can serve as catalysts to coordinate resources and efforts to
address complex problems across the criminal justice spectrum.
The innovations demanded by community- and problem-oriented policing require that law
enforcement agencies incorporate a geographic, spatial, or local focus, and emphasize the
importance of integrating crime-mapping techniques into agency management, analysis, and
enforcement practices. In the case of prisoner reentry, mapping provides important information
about who is being released and where releasees are located so that police might proactively
address both potential threats to public safety as well as any gaps in resources that are needed
to assist returning prisoners.
In developing this publication, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and the
Police Foundation convened a select group of distinguished practitioners, policymakers, and
analysts from the corrections and law enforcement communities in February 2006 to discuss the
ways in which mapping can aid police responses to prisoner reentry. We hope that the issues
and recommendations documented in this report contribute to an improved understanding of
the importance of mapping for community-based prisoner reentry efforts.
Hubert Williams
President, Police Foundation

Foreword	



Acknowledgments

We thank the many law enforcement and corrections agencies that are already involved with
prisoner reentry partnerships, as well as the many community-based, reentry-mapping efforts
that are currently underway. Without these promising practices to draw from, this guidebook
would be strictly hypothetical and readers would not have the benefit of learning from the
experiences and wisdom of those who have provided such strong leadership in the field. We are
particularly appreciative of the many experts who devoted their time to travel to Washington,
D.C., to attend the forum on this topic and who contributed a tremendous number of suggestions and insights that form the backbone of this book. Greg Jones of the Police Foundation
provided helpful guidance throughout the production of this guidebook. This project would not
have been possible without the generous funding from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office
of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). The funding from COPS and the suggestions from COPS staff members Deborah Spence, Matthew Scheider, and Katherine McQuay are
greatly appreciated.

Acknowledgments	

vii

Introduction

Prisoner reentry—the process of individuals leaving prison and jail and returning to the community—is a topic of increasing concern to law enforcement agencies across the country. The
renewed interest in this topic stems from the fact that more people are being released from
prison each year and they typically return to just a handful of neighborhoods where their
impact on both perceptions of public safety as well as actual victimization rates can be severe.
Approximately 656,000 people were released from state and federal prisons in 2003 alone
(Harrison and Beck 2005), a four-fold increase over the past two decades. The potential impact
of prisoner reentry on public safety is undeniable: over two-thirds of released prisoners are
rearrested for a new crime within three years of release (Langan and Levin 2002). One helpful
tool in addressing the public safety challenges of reentry is the use of Geographic Information
Systems (GIS), or computerized mapping technology. Given the local context of prisoner reentry, it is particularly important for law enforcement to have a clear spatial understanding of the
characteristics of reentry within their jurisdictions. Mapping is one of the most powerful means
of capturing important concentrations, patterns, and spatial trends in data (Kingsley, Coulton,
Barndt, Sawicki, and Tatian 1997). Accordingly, policing strategies designed to tackle problems
resulting from prisoner reentry can be more effective when they are informed by the mapping
of such information as the locations of returning prisoners, reentry services and resources, and
parole offices.

Figure
Sentenced Prisoners
Admitted
and Released
Figure
1: 1:Sentenced
Prisoners
Admitted
andfrom Federal and State
Prison, 1977-2001
Released
from Federal and State Prison, 1977–2001

700,000
600,000
500,000
400,000
300,000
200,000
100,000

Admissions: U.S. total
Releases: U.S. Total

0
19

77

19

79

19

81

19

83

19

85

19

87

19

89

19

91

19

93

19

95

19

97

19

99

20

01

Source:The Urban Institute, 2001. Based on BJS National Prisoner Statistics.
Source: The Urban Institute, 2001. Based on BJS National Prisoner Statistics.

Introduction	



What is the Purpose of this Guidebook?

The purpose of this guidebook is to explore ways in which mapping can aid police responses
to prisoner reentry. It is intended for a variety of sworn and civilian police personnel as well as
corrections and community entities interested in partnering with the police on prisoner reentry
efforts. This publication draws heavily from the contributions of a select group of law enforcement
and criminal justice experts who participated in a two-day forum on mapping prisoner reentry at
the Police Foundation in Washington, D.C., in February 2006. (See Figure 2 for a list of forum participants. Participant biographies, with the exception of Police Foundation and COPS staff, begin
on page 33. Titles and affiliations were current at the time of the forum and may have changed.
For example, Edward F. Davis III is now Commissioner of the Boston Police Department.)
Figure 2:  List of Participants in the February 2006 Forum on
Mapping for Police-Led Prisoner Reentry
Mike Ashmet
Lieutenant
Ogden City, Utah, Police Department
James R. Bueermann
Chief of Police	
Redlands, California, Police Department
Edward F. Davis III
Superintendent of Police
Lowell, Massachusetts, Police Department
Jeffrey Gersh
Chief of Research and Evaluation
Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control and
Prevention
Baltimore, Maryland
Greg Jones
Research Associate
Police Foundation
Washington, D.C.
Nancy La Vigne
Senior Research Associate
Urban Institute
Washington, D.C.
John Markovic
Program Manager
International Association of Chiefs of Police
Alexandria, Virginia

	

Katherine McQuay
Program Manager
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, D.C.
Philip Mielke
GIS Analyst
Redlands, California, Police Department
Terry Morgan
Commander
Redmond, Washington, Police Department
Blake Norton
Director, Public Affairs & Community Programs
Boston, Massachusetts, Police Department
Lee Ragsdale
Program Manager
Knoxville, Tennessee, Police Department
Joe Ryan
Director, Crime Mapping & Problem Analysis
Laboratory
Police Foundation
Washington, D.C.
Matthew Scheider
Assistant Director
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, D.C.
(continued on p. 3)
Mapping for Community-Based Prisoner Reentry Efforts

Figure 2:  List of Participants (continued)
Dora Schriro
Director
Arizona Department of Corrections
Phoenix, Arizona

A.T. Wall
Director
Rhode Island Department of Corrections
Cranston, Rhode Island

Kurt Smith
Director
Community Analysis and Technology
Redlands, California, Police Department

Ronald Wilson
Program Manager
Mapping and Analysis for Public Safety
National Institute of Justice
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, D.C.

Deborah Spence
Social Science Analyst
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, D.C.

Specifically, this guidebook aims to:
•	 Explain how public safety can be enhanced by police involvement in prisoner reentry
efforts;
•	 Describe the value of mapping prisoner reentry in support of such efforts; and
•	 Guide readers through the steps necessary to obtain, map, and analyze reentry-related
data in the interest of informing police/community prisoner reentry partnerships.
This guidebook raises and answers a series of questions designed to walk the reader through
the logic of why and how police can take an active role in prisoner reentry efforts and how mapping can aid in those efforts. It then describes in detail the reasons behind, and strategies for,
engaging in data-sharing partnerships with corrections agencies, followed by a description of
useful maps that can be produced. Special attention is paid to describing the various obstacles
both to forging reentry partnerships and to mapping reentry data and how those obstacles can
be surmounted. The guidebook closes with a discussion of how police agencies, in partnership
with corrections, service providers, and community representatives, can use maps to influence changes in policies, practices, and procedures to better enhance public safety by reducing
recidivism among released prisoners and apprehending those who do recidivate swiftly and
efficiently.

What is the Purpose of this Guidebook?	



Why Should Police be Involved
in Prisoner Reentry?

In many respects, police involvement in reentry is a “no-brainer.” The primary role of police is
to maintain peace and order and provide for a safe environment. What we know about prisoner reentry is that (1) more people are returning from prison each year; (2) they face enormous
challenges in successfully reintegrating into society, including histories of drug addiction and
educational and employment deficits; and (3) a significant number end up reoffending and are
returned to prison. While not every released prisoner commits new crimes, those who do have
a direct impact on public safety, influencing citizens’ fears of victimization, and reducing the
public’s confidence in both police and community corrections.
Police don’t act in a vacuum. We need to be mindful of the increased number of
prisoners that are released each year and what that means for keeping crime low.

Edward Davis
Superintendent of Police, Lowell, Massachusetts

Indeed, law enforcement agencies have every interest in mapping and understanding the
community context and impact of prisoner reentry. Knowledge of who is being released and
where they are returning provides useful information about the community, both with regard
to potential threats to public safety as well as any gaps in resources that may exist to assist this
population. Mapping reentry provides law enforcement with a more comprehensive picture of
assets and risks of an area, adding another dynamic to the neighborhood composite, which by
definition includes the types of people who live and work in that neighborhood.
One of the things police can do is add a level of accountability to returning
prisoners. We can act as corrections’ eyes and ears on the street.

Terry Morgan
Commander, Redmond, Washington, Police Department

While some individual patrol officers may believe they already know which former prisoners
are returning to their beats, mapping produces a collective knowledge of reentry and how it
fits into the larger context of public safety and crime prevention. Moreover, law enforcement’s
knowledge of not just where but how prisoners are released (e.g., whether under post-release
supervision or not) can help forge proactive partnerships with corrections that prevent future
victimization.
Most cops think we know everything there is about street problems when we really
might not.

James Bueermann
Chief of Police, Redlands, California

	

Mapping for Community-Based Prisoner Reentry Efforts

Community Policing and Prisoner Reentry
Before launching into a discussion of how police could or should engage in reentry partnerships, it is important to review the evolution of policing in America in recent years. Only a few
decades ago the phrase community policing was hardly uttered in policing, criminal justice, or
policy circles. Today it has become commonplace but, nonetheless, it means different things to
different people. At its best, community policing embodies data-driven, problem-oriented, and
often place-specific approaches to both solving and preventing future crimes. This is accomplished through the engagement of police with all manner of community representatives—residents, schools, local faith and nonprofit institutions, government agencies, businesses, and other
law enforcement entities. Community policing also encourages agencies to undergo organizational changes to support these partnerships and problem-solving efforts.
This is a very different model from that of traditional policing, which is primarily reactive and
focused on apprehending perpetrators who have already committed crimes. Without a doubt,
there is a role for this traditional line of police work, but community policing embodies much
more than that, particularly with regard to preventing future victimization. It is from this
­community-policing definition that this guidebook explores how police can become involved in
prisoner reentry efforts and, more specifically, how mapping can help.
A traditional approach to policing with regard to prisoner reentry would be to watch, wait, and
find the earliest opportunity to rearrest released prisoners and get them off the street again. But
that is not a practical approach, either administratively or fiscally. It is not a good use of police
officers’ time to have them sit and wait for something bad to happen, and it is extremely expensive to incarcerate people. Perhaps most importantly, this traditional policing approach allows a
crime to take place before apprehension can occur, creating yet another victim.
You cannot arrest your way out of everything.

James Bueermann
Chief of Police, Redlands, California

Community policing as applied to prisoner reentry goes far beyond this traditional policing
framework and explores a vast array of ways in which police can enhance public safety by
engaging in reentry efforts. Yes, increased surveillance is one obvious role, and an argument can
be made that increased surveillance of released prisoners alone could go a long way to increasing public safety. But it is also true that, in the context of community policing, law enforcement
can play a role—both prior to and after prisoner release—in:
•	 Encouraging former prisoners to comply with their conditions of post-release
supervision;
•	 Connecting former prisoners to services in the community; and
•	 Exchanging valuable information with corrections entities that can be used to prevent
future crimes and solve existing ones.
The community-policing model also includes neighborhood residents as integral partners in
identifying, responding to, and preventing crime. Central to that process is the use of problem
solving, an approach embodied in problem-oriented policing (POP), which focuses on addressing the underlying causes of crime as a strategy to improve public safety. Law enforcement’s
Why Should Police be Involved in Prisoner Reentry?	



,

expertise with POP can be applied to prisoner reentry in a manner that focuses not just on the
individual risk factors of returning prisoners but also on the risk factors associated with the
­people, property, and places returning prisoners encounter upon their release and that line
officers know so well. Community policing is well equipped to employ this type of place-based
focus because police can work in partnership with supervisory agencies to identify both the
types of places and situations that are likely to increase a returning prisoner’s criminal opportunities as well as how those opportunities might be reduced.
In summary, a comprehensive and proactive approach to prisoner reentry on the part of police
is very much a natural extension of the work they do. Indeed, making contact with former
prisoners is part of officers’ everyday business. Taking on reentry as a part of their core mission
benefits law enforcement because successful efforts to reduce reoffending among released prisoners can prevent future crimes and help improve community relations with police. Focusing
on prisoner reentry has the added benefit of helping to leverage resources and intelligence from
other agencies, aiding in increased surveillance and leading to early apprehension and a fast
track to prosecution. Such efforts require the sharing and analysis of data, and mapping can aid
that process in a number of ways.
Prisoner reentry is a natural extension of the work we do. It’s not about reinventing
the wheel, just folding in new partners.

Blake Norton
Director, Public Affairs & Community Programs
Boston, Massachusetts, Police Department

It’s about working smarter and leveraging resources and intelligence to do so.

John Markovic
Program Manager
International Association of Chiefs of Police

	

Mapping for Community-Based Prisoner Reentry Efforts

How Can Police Use Mapping
in Support of Reentry Efforts?

Prisoner reentry is not an equal opportunity phenomenon: it affects some communities much
more than others. In fact, every study conducted on where released prisoners reside shows
heavy patterns of concentrations, with released prisoners residing in major cities and, within
those cities, clustering in a handful of neighborhoods. Areas to which high concentrations of
released prisoners reside tend to be characterized by measures of disadvantage, such as high
levels of unemployment and poverty.
In addition to economic disadvantages, these communities also lack strong social mechanisms
that reinforce pro-social behavior, with low levels of social cohesion among residents and norms
that are too weak to be effective at eliciting positive behavior (Rose and Clear 2003). A community without strong norms, social trust, and informal social control mechanisms has difficulty in
providing the support, resources, and guidance that can help members disengage from criminal
activity (Lynch and Sabol 2000). The fact that significant numbers of residents from these areas
cycle in and out of prison reduces the stability of these communities and increases the potential
public safety risks caused by reentry. Mapping can aid in understanding these risks as well as
the needs of returning prisoners, and can also assist in identifying where resources exist and
where they are needed.

Where are Former Prisoners Residing?
Maps depicting the residential locations of recently released prisoners can help law enforcement
identify concentrations of returning prisoners in relation to other community factors that can
aid in better assisting this population. Such maps also assist in targeting areas that may be prone
to increased gang violence or may be at greater risk of victimization by certain types of offenders. From a law enforcement management perspective, maps of returning prisoners’ residences,
when overlaid with police patrol areas, may also guide police officer deployment decisions.
Similarly, police can share such maps with community corrections partners to help guide the
allocation of parole officers, as well as to estimate and minimize the travel distance of parolees
to parole offices.
One example of police use of reentry maps is represented through a partnership between the
Providence, Rhode Island, Police Department (PPD) and The Providence Plan, a nonprofit specializing in community data collection and analysis in support of improving the economic and social
well-being of city residents. This partnership has helped to produce both crime and reentry maps
in support of CompStat meetings as well as reentry efforts. Because The Providence Plan was
already actively engaged in reentry-mapping efforts, it was relatively easy for them to produce
crime maps overlaying probation and parole data with police data. Figure 3 provides an example
of how parolees and probationers are distributed within one of the police patrol areas in the city.

How Can Police Use Mapping in Support of Reentry Efforts?	



Fig3: 3Locations of Providence Parolees and Probationers and Crimes by Type in District 7
Figure

P&P Caseload 15 E - District 7 - July 2005

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Rhode Island Department of Corrections.

	

Mapping for Community-Based Prisoner Reentry Efforts

Mapping can also aid in assigning caseloads for which police and probation or parole officers
conduct team ride-alongs and home visits. Figure 4 illustrates an example of how the Knoxville,
Tennessee, Police Department’s (KPD) reentry collaboration, which was established to build
Figure 4: Population Under Criminal Justice Supervision in Knox County,
partnerships between police, corrections, and probation and parole in order to improve the
Tennessee, 2005
successful reentry of high-risk offenders, uses maps to aid both the allocation of probation and
parole officers and the identification of suspects.

Figure 4:  Population Under Criminal Justice Supervision in Knox County,Tennessee, 2005

Source: Lee Ragsdale, Program Manager, Knoxville (TN) Police Department, 2006.

Source: Lee Ragsdale, Program Manager, Knoxville (TN) Police Department, 2006.
Another mapping application employed by the KPD displays residences that police have identified as likely drug houses (see Figure 5). This map was used by corrections to assist in release
plan investigations and change of address requests. For example, such mapping can help to
identify whether an address a parolee submits as a planned or new residence is legitimate, as
well as whether it is located in areas that could pose risks to successful reentry (e.g., near an
open-air drug market).

How Can Police Use Mapping in Support of Reentry Efforts?	



Figure 5: Location of Police-Identified Drug Houses In Knoxville, Tennessee,
2005
Figure 5:  Location of Police-Identified Drug Houses In Knoxville,Tennessee, 2005

Source: Lee Ragsdale, Program Manager, Knoxville (TN) Police Department, 2006.

Source: Lee Ragsdale, Program Manager, Knoxville (TN) Police Department, 2006.

Identifying areas with high concentrations of returning prisoners may help guide law enforcement and parole officer efforts to reduce specific types of associated public safety risks. For
example, mapping gang activity within the community and gang affiliation among released
prisoners may help in pinpointing those who are at greatest risk of committing violent crimes
after release, suggesting a different type of reentry intervention for that subgroup than for the
general population of releasees.

10	

Mapping for Community-Based Prisoner Reentry Efforts

Figure 6: Released Inmate Gang Members by New Jersey Municipality
Figure 6:  Released Inmate Gang Members by New Jersey Municipality

Source: Johnson, Melissa R. 2005. Using Prison Gang Intelligence from the Inside Out. New Jersey Department of Corrections. Presented at the
8th Annual Crime Mapping Research Conference. Savannah, GA.

Source: Johnson, Melissa R. 2005. Using Prison Gang Intelligence from the Inside Out. New
Jersey Department of Corrections. Presented at the 8th Annual Crime Mapping Research
Conference. Savannah, GA.

The New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJ DOC) identifies gang members among current
prisoners using self-reported gang affiliation, gang-related tattoos, possession of gang-related
paraphernalia, intelligence from law enforcement, and prisoner informants (Johnson 2005).
When gang members are released, the DOC notifies local law enforcement in the jurisdiction
to which the inmate is returning. Gang-affiliated, released prisoners have also been mapped
throughout the state as well as within the city of Camden. The statewide map revealed that
87 percent of New Jersey towns have at least one identified gang inmate residing there (see
Figure 6).
Within Camden, gang inmates have been mapped by affiliation using different symbols, and
individuals may be identified by name (see Figure 7). This information has also been combined
with aerial photos of gang territories to aid in the identification of neighboring—and potentially
clashing—turfs (Johnson 2005).

How Can Police Use Mapping in Support of Reentry Efforts?	

11

Figure 7: Camden (NJ) Released Gang-Affiliated Inmates
Figure 7:  Camden (NJ) Released Gang-Affiliated Inmates

Source: Johnson, Melissa R. 2005. Using Prison Gang Intelligence from the Inside Out. New Jersey Department of Corrections. Presented at the
8th Annual Crime Mapping Research Conference. Savannah, GA.

Source: Johnson, Melissa R. 2005. Using Prison Gang Intelligence from the Inside Out. New
Jersey Department of Corrections. Presented at the 8th Annual Crime Mapping Research
Conference. Savannah, GA.

From a traditional law enforcement perspective, the mapping of known offenders in relation to
reported crimes might also help inform investigative efforts. Such information can be used to
aid in prevention measures targeted toward areas of greatest vulnerability to crime. However,
as Figure 8 illustrates, concentrations of where parolees live may have little or no relationship to where crime occurs. This finding mirrors previous research underscoring the fact that
residences of former prisoners do not necessarily coincide with locations of crimes (La Vigne
and Kachnowski 2003; La Vigne and Thomson 2003). Such maps can be used by law enforcement to communicate that residents need not be fearful of victimization simply because former
prisoners are residing among them. This can reduce “not in my backyard” attitudes and serve
to engage residents in positive ways to assist former prisoners in leading productive and law
abiding lives.

12	

Mapping for Community-Based Prisoner Reentry Efforts

Figure 8 San Diego County Parolee and Probationer Population and Reported Property
Crime, 2005
Figure 8:  San Diego County Parolee and Probationer Population and
Reported Property Crime, 2005

Source: Julie Wartell, San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.

Source: Julie Wartell, San Diego County District Attorney's Office.
The question of where former prisoners are residing becomes particularly important with
regard to sex offenders, as jurisdictions are increasingly barring sex offenders from living in
areas that are in close proximity to schools, parks, and other places at which children congregate. Mapping can assist law enforcement in communities that prohibit sex offenders from living in close proximity to schools. Figure 9 illustrates the home residences of sex offenders in San
Diego in relation to half-mile buffers surrounding schools. A significant number of offenders
were found to reside in prohibited locations. Police can use this information to share with parole
that certain offenders are violating conditions of parole. Such maps can also be useful in investigations of sex crimes against children.

How Can Police Use Mapping in Support of Reentry Efforts?	

13

Figure 9: San Diego County Sex Registrants in Relation to K-8 Schools
Figure 9:  San Diego County Sex Registrants in Relation to K-8 Schools

Source: Julie Wartell, San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.

Source: Julie Wartell, San Diego County District Attorney's Office.

The advent of Geographic Positioning Systems (GPS) has enabled corrections to enhance the
basic mapping capabilities of GIS for sex offender management purposes. The GPS device is
linked to an ankle bracelet, which transmits the geographic coordinates of the offender into a
central tracking system roughly every ten minutes. This technology enables the whereabouts
of known sex offenders to be monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The system can also be
designed to issue alerts if offenders go into proscribed areas, such as near schools or day-care
centers (termed “geofencing”).

14	

Mapping for Community-Based Prisoner Reentry Efforts

Figure 10: GPS Positions of One Sex Offender’s Locations Over a 24-Hour

Figure
10:  GPS Positions of One Sex Offender’s Locations Over a 24-Hour Period
Period

Source: Kurt Smith, Redlands (CA) Police Department.

Source: Kurt Smith, Redlands (CA) Police Department.

The Redlands, California, Police Department recently linked the state’s parole GPS pilot program to its own GIS to determine its utility for law enforcement. Initially the department had
not yet done any geofencing and one officer was simply checking locations of offenders twice a
day. However, a known sex offender who had been incarcerated for sexual battery of a twelveyear-old had recently been released from prison and was subject to GPS monitoring, so officers took particular note of his whereabouts and quickly identified a disturbing pattern. The
offender’s routine was to go out of his way to drive by the university and linger on the campus.
It became clear that he was searching for targets on campus, and collaboration with university
police quickly linked him to a series of indecent exposure events, which resulted in a parole
violation and his return to prison for an additional eight months. (See Figure 10 for depiction of
how GPS, when combined with aerial photography, can provide detailed information about the
whereabouts of monitored sex offenders.)

How Can Police Use Mapping in Support of Reentry Efforts?	

15

Mapping and GPS Tracking of Sex Offenders
Megan’s Law and similar state and local statutes have prompted the development of Web-based data
systems–many equipped with mapping capabilities–that can be employed by both law enforcement
and the public. This provides an opportunity to quickly identify returning prisoners who were
serving time for sex offenses, which can be used to increase surveillance of these individuals as
well as to encourage their compliance with certain conditions of post-release supervision, such as
not living or going near schools and other areas where children congregate. GPS tracking of sex
offenders provides the added benefit of receiving real-time alerts when offenders do enter such
proscribed areas.
Despite the advantages that GIS and GPS provide to sex offender management and surveillance
efforts, these systems may also increase fears among the public; therefore maps of sex offender
locations should be generated and disseminated with care. The following are some simple guidelines
that, if employed, may minimize fears caused by the use of sex offender mapping and tracking
systems, as well as increase the efficient use of them by law enforcement and corrections.
Distinguish sex offenders by type. The public is most concerned with child predators. These
should be distinguished from those convicted of statutory rape and other types of sex offenders.
Illustrate the percent of sex offenders as a share of all returning prisoners. This will
enable the public to understand the scale of the problem, illustrating that most returning prisoners
are incarcerated for lesser crimes.
Limit dissemination based on purpose. It is important to distinguish between the need to
share sex offender maps with other agencies versus sharing them with residents.
Proximity is as important as location. Knowing whether a sex offender is in close proximity
to a child day care center is as important as if he were on the premises. When using GPS, create
geofencing that has a generous radius around certain vulnerable targets to allow police or
corrections officers ample time to arrive on the scene.
Limit GPS surveillance to high-risk offenders. GPS generates an enormous amount of
information and, even with geofencing programmed into the system, police and corrections can
easily become overwhelmed by the data at the expense of identifying at-risk behavior on the part of
the most dangerous sex offenders.

Are Resources and Services Accessible to Those in Need?
A second category of useful mapping applications for reentry is the use of maps to guide
resource allocation. Mapping released prisoners in conjunction with services available to them
can illustrate areas containing adequate services and employment opportunities in close proximity to where the majority of prisoners return. Such mapping can also detect a service delivery
mismatch in which services exist but are not easily accessible.

16	

Mapping for Community-Based Prisoner Reentry Efforts

Equally important is whether suitable jobs for former prisoners are available or are located
along public transportation networks. The San Diego District Attorneys Office, in partnership
with the San Diego Association of Governments (SanDAG), employed mapping to examine
the distance that former prisoners participating in the Second Chance employment placement
program needed to travel to report to their jobs. Figure 11 depicts the distances for each of the
forty participants, and reveals that some commutes were as far as twenty miles each way, which
prompted the reentry partnership in San Diego to contemplate transportation challenges of
returning prisoners and the role that long commutes might play in job retention over time.
Another example that illustrates how reentry mapping might guide resource allocation is the
need for safe and affordable housing for returning prisoners. Some prisoners have no housing
available to them after their release and have no remaining ties to family and friends on the outside. These housing challenges are intensified when prisoners return to their old neighborhoods
only to find that there are no shelters or affordable housing options for them. Mapping the locations of shelters, halfway houses, and affordable housing in relation to where inmates return can
illustrate the extent of this problem and provide guidance in choosing appropriate sites for new
housing options for releasees.
The examples of reentry-mapping applications described above underscore the importance and
value of understanding the effects of incarceration and reentry on communities. It is important
to note, however, that maps themselves are not the end goal of a reentry program. To the contrary, the maps generated should be used in concert with other analysis tools to help launch a
community conversation, to engage stakeholders, and to generate support for the creation of
new resources—and the targeting of existing ones—where they will be most effective. These
reentry maps will yield the greatest impact if they are guided by and shared with partners who
are most likely to be engaged in promoting the successful reintegration of former prisoners.

How Can Police Use Mapping in Support of Reentry Efforts?	

17

Figure 11: Distance from Ex-Offender Employment Program Participants to
Employers
Figure 11:  Distance from Ex-Offender Employment Program Participants to Employers

Source: Julie Wartell, San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.

Source: Julie Wartell, San Diego County District Attorney's Office.
18	

Mapping for Community-Based Prisoner Reentry Efforts

What Partnerships Should be Forged?

The key to any reentry partnership—and particularly one involving the sharing and mapping of
data and intelligence—is to get the right players at the table. These players will vary from community to community but, at a bare minimum, law enforcement should aim to partner with both
institutional corrections (prisons and jails serving their jurisdiction) and community corrections
(parole, probation, and/or other community supervision agencies). These corrections entities will
have the data on when people are being released, where they will be living, and whether they
will be subject to supervision on the outside. Corrections will also likely have information on
the criminal backgrounds, gang affiliations, and drug use and mental health histories of released
prisoners, all of which are critical to understanding both the needs as well as the potential public
safety threats of this population. Likewise, law enforcement’s access to information on community dynamics, as well as the risks and habits of known offenders and their ­associates, can contribute to prisoner reentry strategies and educate residents.
Cross-jurisdictional agency collaboration makes the job easier for both corrections
and law enforcement.

Jeffrey Gersh
Chief of Research and Evaluation
Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention

Despite the obvious benefits to police partnering with corrections, establishing partnerships
with them can be very challenging and requires a mutual understanding of the goals and philosophies of each agency. Often the greatest barrier to such partnerships is misperception on the
part of each party on whom they are and what they are trying to accomplish. Stereotypically,
corrections view police as hardliners whose sole purpose is to apprehend offenders, whereas
police believe corrections officers are criminal-loving social workers. Those who work for corrections agencies may believe that they do not garner the appropriate amount of respect from
their law enforcement counterparts, and therefore may be unwilling to engage in a partnership. Overcoming these misperceptions is critical to forging a strong, productive partnership.
This can be accomplished by doing cross training—for example, having parole officers ride
along with police officers and vice versa, and inviting parole officers to speak at police roll calls.
Similarly, police visits to correctional institutions and corrections visits to roll calls could be
beneficial in helping each party gain a better understanding for and appreciation of the other’s
work. Often these common understandings are forged at the very top of the law enforcement
and corrections hierarchies, with individual relationships among chiefs and corrections directors going a long way toward setting a tone of collaboration and collegiality for the rank and file
of both agencies.
We are different agencies and have different missions even though they are related.
The culture clash needs to be talked about and ironed out.

A.T. Wall
Director, Rhode Island Department of Corrections

What Partnerships Should be Forged?	

19

It is evident that any fruitful law enforcement reentry partnership requires both buy-in and
collaboration from community and institutional corrections, but what other partners should
be at the table and what can they contribute to the reentry-mapping effort? One useful means
to identifying reentry-mapping partners is to answer the question, Who is affected by prisoner
reentry and how? This could lead to the generation of a long list of stakeholders, complete with
detailed information on the types of data and intelligence that they may be able to provide to
law enforcement. Some general categories of types of reentry partners include:
•	 Corrections—both institutional (prisons and jails) and community (probation and
parole)
•	 Other criminal justice entities—neighboring and regional law enforcement (state,
county), federal law enforcement (U.S. Attorney, Immigration and Naturalization,
cross-agency task forces, courts, juvenile justice)
•	 Residents—including past victims of crime, families of released prisoners, and
released prisoners themselves
•	 Local business—those affected by crime and those willing and able to employ former
prisoners
•	 Schools—both in sharing intelligence on adult sex offenders and drug dealers as well
as identifying potential youthful offenders
•	 Faith-based institutions—often an informal source of support and assistance to
returning prisoners
•	 Service providers—including substance abuse treatment centers, transitional housing
providers, job readiness and placement centers
•	 Public housing authorities—may impose restrictions on certain types of returning
prisoners and may have intelligence on where absconders are
Often many of these partners have already been identified through other comprehensive law
enforcement efforts, such as interagency task forces. These existing relationships can be easily
harnessed and redirected to the topic of prisoner reentry. The power of forging such comprehensive prisoner-reentry partnerships is that both responsibility and accountability for the issue is
spread across the entire community. This can engender greater community cohesion around the
common goal of crime reduction.
Sometimes you’re just reorganizing the players and introducing new technology.

Blake Norton
Director, Public Affairs & Community Programs
Boston, Massachusetts, Police Department

Once the various partners are identified, roles and relationships will need to be defined. At a
minimum, the roles of all partners should include the exchange of information and intelligence
about returning prisoners in terms of the risks they pose to the community, their needs (drug
treatment, housing) as well as assets (strong family support, employment skills), and their conditions, if any, of post-release supervision. Partners may also exchange more global information
on the location, type, and availability of services available for returning prisoners and the frequency and type of contacts police have with former prisoners under correctional supervision.
This type of information exchange is enhanced when reentry partners are co-located at the same
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Mapping for Community-Based Prisoner Reentry Efforts

workplace or when joint task strategies are developed, such as drug courts that require equal
input and shared information among different criminal justice and community entities.
It’s important to look at who your internal partners are and whether they buy into
reentry.

Dora Schriro
Director, Arizona Department of Corrections

This type of information sharing can be facilitated by developing memoranda of understanding (MOUs) that clearly state the nature of the information to be shared, the frequency of data
exchanges, and who will have access to the data. In addition to sharing information, reentry
partnerships can be both forged and reinforced by other efforts to increase each party’s understanding of the other’s work. This can be accomplished through cross training, the use of citizen
academies, parole/police ride-alongs, and police officer visits to prisons.
It is rare for police to be seen inside a correctional institution, so it has an effect
when they are seen. When someone is in custody, you have their attention; they are
clean and sober, so it is the best time to converse.

A.T. Wall
Director, Rhode Island Department of Corrections

Perhaps the greatest means of forging a strong and sustainable reentry partnership is to build
off existing personal relationships for which trust already exists and stereotypical barriers have
been overcome. These personal relationships, coupled with strong buy-in from the top, can be
very effective in reentry efforts that involve a wide array of stakeholders.
I would say that sharing information is fundamental to the success of both
disciplines because community safety is our ultimate goal. However, we are more
likely to pass on information when we know and trust the person we are talking
with. This relationship can be developed more rapidly when each discipline realizes
how often the other interacts with the same offenders.

Lt. Mike Ashmet
Ogden City, Utah, Police Department

What Partnerships Should be Forged?	

21

How Can Reentry Data be Obtained?

When it comes to obtaining address-level data on returning prisoners, it is first necessary to
understand the administrative structure in your state. Each state’s criminal justice structure
is different, with some states combining institutional and community corrections under one
agency and others housing these functions under independent agencies. For the purposes of
police involvement in prisoner reentry, it is useful to reach out to both the agency that collects
and maintains data on existing prison populations, as well as the agency that maintains information on those offenders who are currently under supervision in the community. Each data
source has its advantages and disadvantages.
One way to create a connection and foster collaboration with corrections agencies
is to show them some preliminary data analysis. This would not only help to
confirm some of their previous suspicions but would also provide them with useful
information that they may not have seen before. This could definitely help in
bridging the gap between police and corrections.

Ronald Wilson
Program Manager, MAPS, NIJ

Data on institutional corrections typically provide a more accurate representation of the volume
of recently released prisoners but are less likely to have reliable addresses for this population.
Conversely, databases of existing parolees can include those who were released many years ago
and hence may not be representative of those individuals who are reentering society. Moreover,
this data source underestimates the reentry count because, in many states, a significant number
of released prisoners are not under community supervision. In addition, some released prisoners are supervised as probationers rather than parolees (see sidebar, Probation and Parole:
Understanding Post-Release Supervision). Nonetheless, community corrections databases are
much more apt to have reliable addresses because parolees are required to report changes of
address to their parole officers.
Many nuances and complications exist in interpreting and analyzing these data sources. Moreover, creating maps that effectively and accurately communicate information requires knowledge of color schemes, graphics, and other display options that are available in GIS software.
For an in-depth discussion on these issues and how they can be overcome, see La Vigne and
Cowan, 2005.
In addition to data about released prisoners, the reentry-mapping partnership will also need
contextual data about the neighborhoods in which returning prisoners reside. These data
include basic information, such as the income and employment levels in those neighborhoods,
which can typically be obtained from census files or the local council of governments. Information on the locations of service providers may be obtained from local Information and Referral
or 211 databases listing services for former prisoners.

22	

Mapping for Community-Based Prisoner Reentry Efforts

Probation and Parole: Understanding Post-Release Supervision
Criminal justice definitions can vary widely from state to state, creating confusion among those
who are seeking to better understand and respond to the released prisoner population. In most
states, those released to a term of community supervision following a state prison term are called
“parolees.” This term, however, has taken on different meaning in recent years, as more states have
moved away from the use of parole boards as an early release mechanism. However, even in those
states where parole has been abolished, the term “parole” as applied to post-release supervision
remains.
Probation, on the other hand, is typically imposed as an alternative sanction to a prison term and,
thus, in most states probationers are not recently released prisoners (although they are likely
candidates for prison if they fail to meet the conditions of probation). However, in some places
judges impose split sentences, also known as shock probation, whereby offenders are sentenced to
a short prison term followed by a term of probation supervision in the community. While national
statistics on the share of state prisoners who are released to parole and probation supervision
are not available, recent projections indicate that roughly 80 percent of released prisoners will be
under some form of community supervision (Beck 2000). If historical data are any indication, among
those under supervision, roughly 90 percent are on parole and 10 percent are on probation.

How Can Reentry Data be Obtained?	

23

How Should Reentry Maps be Presented?

It is clear that reentry maps produced with the data sources described above can be extremely
useful in describing the nature of reentry, the underlying factors surrounding reentry success
or failure, and the existing and needed resources to serve this population. Nonetheless, many
police reentry partnerships develop mapping capabilities but find themselves limited by a lack
of knowledge of what types of maps to produce. Busy, executive-level decision makers should
not be expected to understand the nuances of GIS to the extent that they know what types of
maps to request. The burden should be on the person generating the maps to present various
versions of the same information in a way that decision makers can determine which best communicates the data.
The making and sharing of maps with decision makers should also be viewed as an iterative
process, for which drafts are presented, revised, and redistributed. Rare is the case that the first
map produced communicates information effectively, and sharing such first drafts with the
end user can lead to helpful refinements. In addition, it is often useful for mapmakers to help
decision makers by including a bullet or even brief narrative text on the same page as the map,
describing the main points the map is communicating. These take-away points enable those
who are not accustomed to reading maps to focus their attention on the specific concentrations
or relationships that the map portrays.
Mapmakers should tell folks what they think the map means—and what it doesn’t.

A.T. Wall
Director, Rhode Island Department of Corrections

24	

Mapping for Community-Based Prisoner Reentry Efforts

What are the Obstacles to Reentry Mapping?

Data Acquisition
Obtaining and mapping reentry data require partnerships and, often, formal agreements with
participating agencies to address a number of likely challenges. First, acquiring data from
multiple agencies raises issues associated with human subjects protection, and can often result
in turf wars between agencies that are perceived as having conflicting missions (e.g., human
services agencies versus law enforcement). As discussed earlier, much can be overcome by forging strong partnerships from the start, employing the cross-training methods described earlier
in this publication. Often, formal written documentation of the partnership is useful as well,
which is typically achieved through a signed MOU. In order to be effective and comprehensive, the MOU should address who will share the data (including restrictions or guidelines on
third-party sharing), how personal identifiers will be addressed, and how the resulting maps
and analyses will be distributed. Given the sensitive nature of the topic and the media’s likely
interest in it, it may be prudent to include language that says that no agency shall release the
data (in map or any other form) without the agreement of all MOU signatories. MOUs may also
include agreement on how often data will be shared among the parties and a requirement that
all ­parties abide by clearly delineated metadata1 standards. Such MOUs can provide peace of
mind that data are used responsibly and that the sharing of data with other agencies will not
generate any unexpected media attention.
An MOU helps spell out what each agency is going to do without making those
boundaries impermeable. It establishes legitimacy for all involved—not just the
police or corrections—making it a true partnership.

Lee Ragsdale
Program Manager, Knoxville, Tennessee, Police Department

Data Integration
Incompatible and antiquated data systems can make it difficult to extract data for mapping
purposes and, without metadata, integration can be difficult. A useful approach to overcoming
these challenges is to encourage all parties to use the Global Justice Extensible Markup Language (XML) Data Model (Global JXDM). Global JXDM was developed by the U.S. Department
of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs in order to reduce the burden that individual criminal
justice agencies typically face in developing common systems in order to share data. For more
information on how to obtain and employ Global JXDM, see http://www.it.ojp.gov/topic
.jsp?topic_id=43.

 Technically defined as “data about data,” metadata applies to the documentation about where data are obtained
from and how they are stored, modified, defined, and formatted. Metadata become critical when data are shared
across agencies so that all users employ the data properly and understand its limitations.
1

What are the Obstacles to Reentry Mapping?	

25

GIS Technology and Expertise
Agencies new to mapping are often daunted by their lack of GIS technology and/or technological expertise, as well as by the costs associated with acquiring that technological expertise
through training or subcontracting. Given the right resources and partnerships, however, an
array of cost-effective solutions is available. With regard to software, many basic mapping
programs and geocoding programs are now available online for free or for a nominal fee.2
Information specific to the mapping of crime and criminal justice data, including both software
and training resources, may be found through the National Institute of Justice’s Mapping and
Analysis for Public Safety (MAPS) program.3
Another option is to take advantage of interns or students from a local university’s planning,
criminal justice, or geography departments. These departments typically own their own GIS
software, and professors are often looking for “real-life” work to use as practical applications for
their students, so that each party benefits from such a partnership. Given the inexpensive (and
often free) labor universities provide, such a partnership holds promise for providing ongoing
support over time.
In some cases, the appropriate approach for covering the costs of a new GIS venture is through
the use of state or federal grants. One option for grants is through the state agency that distributes funds from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program,4 or by
applying for JAG funds directly as a local government entity. JAG grants can be used to fund a
variety of criminal justice related items, including information technology such as GIS.
Lots of software is available that agencies just aren’t taking advantage of.

Kurt Smith
Director, Community Analysis & Technology
Redlands, California, Police Department

Lack of Resources
Perhaps the greatest reason agencies do not engage in reentry-mapping efforts is the perceived
high cost of doing so. These perceptions, however, are often inaccurate. As referenced above
with regard to GIS expertise and software, most reentry partnerships include at least one agency
that has already invested in GIS. Thus, the costs are mostly in human resources and the opportunity costs associated with having employees working on reentry mapping at the expense of
other activities. These opportunity costs should not be underestimated but may nonetheless be
justified if a clear tie can be made between reentry mapping and increased public safety. Moreover, the partnerships required to launch a reentry-mapping effort in a cost-efficient manner
should result in increased collaboration, which would be looked upon favorably by prospective
funding agencies.

 For a list of free GIS software online, see http://www.gis.com/implementing_gis/software/index.html. For free
geocoding software (on a trial basis only) see www.geocode.com.
3
 See http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/maps/.
4
 Formerly known as the Byrne Formula and Local Law Enforcement Block Grant (LLEBG) programs, JAG is
administered by the Office of Justice Programs of the U.S. Department of Justice. More information on the program
can be found at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA/grant/jag.html.
2

26	

Mapping for Community-Based Prisoner Reentry Efforts

Public Fears and Media Misrepresentation
Reentry maps can be useful tools in assisting law enforcement and corrections partners in
understanding and responding to prisoner reentry, but often residents do not perceive a benefit
from the distribution of maps depicting concentrations of returning prisoners. Indeed, such
maps may increase fears of victimization, raise concerns about diminished property values, and
prompt charges of racism due to the fact that reentry concentrations often closely mirror concentrations of minority populations. “Not In My Back Yard” (NIMBY) issues may also emerge, as
reentry maps may prompt residents to anticipate that services will be co-located near concentrations of returning prisoners, exacerbating rather than mitigating the public safety risks in their
immediate vicinity.
While some of these perceptions may be insurmountable, they can be anticipated and minimized by simple mapping techniques along with the strategic release of maps to the public.
Care should be taken to represent hot spots of returning prisoners not with shades of red, which
connote danger, but with more neutral shades of gray, green, or blue. When using icons or
graduated symbols, colors and sizes can also be adjusted to represent the information in a way
that does not appear intimidating. With regard to racial issues, it is important to map returning
prisoners along with an array of other socioeconomic data—rather than using race as a proxy—
so that it is clearly communicated that these concentrations are about economic disadvantage
rather than race.
We need to include other factors, such as income and unemployment, to make it
clear that this is about correlations and not about race.

A.T. Wall
Director, Rhode Island Department of Corrections

Another way to minimize the flaring of racial tensions that can sometimes occur with reentry
maps is to explain the purpose and the context of the maps. If the maps are presented in the
context of garnering support for creative, proactive approaches to supporting the successful reentry of prisoners—and thus increasing public safety—the public is much less likely to
become hostile and defensive than if the first map they see depicts returning prisoners in relation to crime hot spots. Indeed, public commitment and resources to address and minimize the
challenges of prisoner reentry can be garnered through an education campaign that emphasizes
the increased public safety and net benefit to taxpayers that will result if policies and practices
can be implemented that support the successful reintegration of former prisoners.
Even when the above precautions are taken, the media can still thwart these efforts, highlighting what it believes to be the most sensational findings associated with any reentry map that
is distributed. This can harm relationships between police and corrections, resulting in finger
pointing from one agency to the other in an unproductive but all too common attempt at damage control. While personal relationships between agency staff can go a long way to preventing
these types of incidents, even the strongest reentry partnership can quickly deteriorate under
such media scrutiny. Tensions over media coverage can be prevented, or at least mitigated, by
developing agreements that each agency’s public information officer talk to the other before
anybody talks to the press.

What are the Obstacles to Reentry Mapping?	

27

How Can Mapping Lead to Action?

One of the greatest dangers of the application of GIS to a new issue or problem is that people
assume that the end product is the map, spending most of their energies adding new data
layers, experimenting with different color schemes, and focusing on the aesthetics of the map
production process. If maps are to be used to support effective police reentry partnerships,
they should be viewed as the beginning of the process rather than the end. Such maps should be
employed to inform the conversation on reentry in terms of the concentrations, needs, and risks
of returning prisoners in the community.
It would be great if the department of corrections could take the initiative and map
out their data, since they have their own centralized database.

Philip Mielke
GIS Analyst, Redlands, California, Police Department

Reentry maps can help partners gain a common understanding of the distribution of former
prisoners throughout the community as well as the risks they may or may not pose. Mapping
may illustrate that there are ample services within a community but that the services are all
located in the same part of town, making it difficult for former prisoners living in more remote
(and more affordable) areas to take advantage of those resources.
Mapping can also help dispel myths about the risks that returning prisoners pose to public
safety. For example, when isolated by type of sex offense, a map of former sex offenders may
clearly illustrate the very small share of returning prisoners that group comprises, reducing
fears and leading to more realistic policies tailored toward this subpopulation.
The sharing of maps with varying levels and types of decision makers should be viewed as an
iterative process, and preferably the person who produced the map should have a seat at the
table. Those generating maps may wish to present a few, different, mapped representations of
the same data to decision makers and to supplement those maps with graphs, charts, and tables.
This enables people of varying map-reading aptitudes to rely on alternative and complementary
visual representations of the data. Moreover, this approach helps to educate people on the possibilities of mapping and increases their own comfort level in using maps to inform conversations
with decision makers that can lead to action.

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Mapping for Community-Based Prisoner Reentry Efforts

Conclusion

The recipe for a successful reentry-mapping initiative relies upon three important ingredients:
people, partnerships, and products (see sidebar, What is the Value Added of a Prisoner ­Reentry
Mapping Partnership?). Identifying the right people— be they inspirational leaders who generate support or data gurus who understand the nuances of geocoding and mapping—is a critical
first step. Equally important, however, are the partnerships that must be forged and sustained
to promote the sharing and mapping of data and the use of it to make a meaningful impact on
public safety. Finally, these people and partnerships will have no sustainable impact if they do
not lead to products that promote change in the way prisoner reentry is viewed and addressed.
The products are not the maps alone; to the contrary, maps should be incorporated into the
overall prisoner reentry strategy, playing a supporting rather than a starring role in the policies
and practices that are ultimately developed and implemented.
Crime control, at the end of the day, is not “soft” or “hard.” Either it works or it
doesn’t.

James Bueermann.
Chief of Police, Redlands, California

What is the Value Added of a Prisoner Reentry Mapping Partnership?
•	 Improves understanding of resources and available services (e.g., housing, job placement programs,
substance abuse treatment)
•	 Increases understanding of where released prisoners are residing
•	 Builds knowledge of types of released prisoners in various neighborhoods (e.g., sex offenders,
violent offenders, drug offenders)
•	 Promotes fluid communication and information exchange between agency partners
•	 Facilitates trust and buy-in between agencies
•	 Assists in efficient allocation of parole officers
•	 Identifies specific vs. general risks (e.g., gang member vs. repeat petty thief)
•	 Provides a comprehensive understanding of crime problems, especially in high-risk neighborhoods
•	 Promotes community and agency involvement, which spreads and increases the level of
accountability and responsibility
•	 Advances technological capabilities (e.g., GPS-tracking of high-risk offenders)
•	 Streamlines efforts by each participating agency (e.g., MOUs)
•	 Establishes legitimacy for all parties involved
•	 Increases understanding and appreciation of other agencies’ work

Conclusion	

29

References

Beck, Allen J. 2000. State and federal prisoners returning to the community: Findings from
the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Washington, D.C.: Presentation at the First Reentry Courts
Initiative Cluster Meeting.
Harrison, Paige M., and Allen J. Beck. 2005. Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2004. Washington,
D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, April, NCJ 208801.
Johnson, Melissa R. 2005. Using Prison Gang Intelligence from the Inside Out. New Jersey
Department of Corrections. Presented at the 8th Annual Crime Mapping Research
Conference. Savannah, GA.
Kingsley, G. Thomas, Claudia J. Coulton, Michael Barndt, David S. Sawicki, and Peter Tatian.
1997. Mapping Your Community: Using Geographic Information to Strengthen Community
Initiatives. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Langan, Patrick A., and David Levin. 2002. Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994. Bureau of
Justice Statistics Special Report. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of
Justice Programs.
La Vigne, Nancy G. and Jake Cowan. 2005. Mapping Prisoner Reentry: An Action-Research
Guidebook. Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute.
La Vigne, N.G. and V. Kachnowski (2003). A Portrait of Prisoner Reentry in Maryland.
Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute.
La Vigne, N.G. and J. Thomson (2003). A Portrait of Prisoner Reentry in Ohio. Washington, D.C.:
The Urban Institute.
Lynch, James P., and William J. Sabol. 2000. “Prison Use and Social Control.” In Policies,
Processes, and Decisions of the Criminal Justice System, Criminal Justice 2000: Vol. 3, edited
by Julie Horney (7–44). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice
Programs, National Institute of Justice.
Rose, Dina R., and Todd R. Clear. 2003. “Incarceration, Reentry, and Social Capital: Social
Networks in the Balance.” In Prisoners Once Removed: The Impact of Incarceration and
Reentry on Children, Families, and Communities, edited by Jeremy Travis and Michelle
Waul. Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute Press.

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Mapping for Community-Based Prisoner Reentry Efforts

Resources

Mapping
While this monograph recommends that reentry-mapping novices team up with local experts
(e.g., universities or nonprofit data centers) to obtain mapping assistance, it may not be possible
or desirable to do so. In fact, some reentry-mapping partnerships may determine that having inhouse GIS expertise is important for project sustainability. Fortunately, several affordable training options are available. Software vendors such as ESRI and MapInfo offer training workshops
throughout the country for a fee (see www.esri.com and www.mapinfo.com).
For a list of free GIS software online, see http://www.gis.com/implementing_gis/software/
index.html. For free geocoding software (on a trial basis only) see www.geocode.com
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Mapping and Analysis for Public Safety program (MAPS)
publishes reports and sponsors conferences and workshops, including the annual Crime
­Mapping Research Conference.
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/maps/index.html
The NIJ-funded Crime Mapping and Analysis Program (CMAP) offers training, technical
­assistance, and other resources.
http://www.nlectc.org/cmap/
Created with support from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), the
Police Foundation Crime Mapping & Problem Analysis Laboratory (CMPAL) offers practical
assistance and information to law enforcement agencies through an array of online resources,
including an Introductory Guide to Crime Analysis and Mapping, User’s Guide to Mapping Software
for Police Agencies, Manual of Crime Analysis Map Production, Crime Analysis and Mapping Product
Templates, Guidelines to Implement and Evaluate Crime Analysis and Mapping in Law Enforcement,
Crime Analysis and Crime Mapping Information Clearinghouse, and an Advanced Problem Analysis,
Crime Analysis, and Crime Mapping Training Curriculum. With support from COPS, the foundation publishes Crime Mapping News, a quarterly newsletter for crime mapping, GIS, problem
analysis, and policing.
http://www.policefoundation.org/docs/crime_mapping.html
A project of the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Justice Programs (OJP), together
with the Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative, the Global JXDM is a comprehensive
product that includes a data model, a data dictionary, and an XML schema that together is
known as the Global JXDM. The Global JXDM is an XML standard designed specifically for
criminal justice information exchanges, providing law enforcement, public safety agencies,
prosecutors, public defenders, and the judicial branch with a tool to effectively share data and
information in a timely manner. The Global JXDM removes the burden from agencies to independently create exchange standards and, because of its extensibility, there is more flexibility to

Resources	

31

deal with unique agency requirements and changes. Through the use of a common vocabulary
that is understood system to system, Global JXDM enables access from multiple sources and
reuse in multiple applications.
http://www.it.ojp.gov/topic.jsp?topic_id=43

Prisoner Reentry and Community Mapping
The Reentry Policy Council (RPC), coordinated by the Council of State Governments (CSG),
is a public/private partnership established to assist state government officials grappling with
the increasing number of people leaving prisons and jails to return to the communities they left
behind. The RPC’s Web site has a step-by-step guide to addressing reentry at the local level, and
includes links to research and resources.
http://www.reentrypolicy.org/reentry/default.aspx
The CSG Justice Center and the Police Executive Research Forum are developing a self-assessment toolkit for law enforcement agencies looking to improve and expand reentry efforts. Planning and Assessing a Law Enforcement Re-Entry Strategy is scheduled for release in Fall 2007.
http://www.reentrypolicy.org/reentry/LawEnforcement.aspx
The Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center has an extensive list of prisoner reentry publications,
including links to full documents.
http://www.urban.org/projects/reentry-portfolio/index.cfm.
In addition, the Urban Institute has a separate Web page dedicated to mapping prisoner reentry,
which offers additional resources, publications, and links.
www.reentrymapping.org
The U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, has a prisoner reentry Web page
with information on state initiatives.
http://www.reentry.gov
The Mapping and Analysis for Public Safety (MAPS) Web site, of the U.S. Department of Justice,
National Institute of Justice, lists resources and publications on community mapping across a
wide array of criminal justice topics.
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/maps/
The Reentry National Media Outreach Campaign is designed to support the work of community and faith-based organizations through offering media resources that will facilitate community discussion and decision making about solution-based reentry programs.
http://www.reentrymediaoutreach.org/
The International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Office of Community Oriented Policing
Services published Offender Re-Entry: Exploring the Leadership Opportunity for Law Enforcement
Executives and Their Agencies, the final report of a national policy summit of over 100 law
enforcement, correctional, and community leaders to address the issue of offender reentry and
the role of local law enforcement in reentry programs.
http://www.theiacp.org/research/ReentrySummitReport.pdf

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Mapping for Community-Based Prisoner Reentry Efforts

Biographies of Participants in the Forum
on Mapping for Police-Led Prisoner Reentry

Mike Ashmet
Lieutenant Mike Ashmet is a twenty-year veteran of the Ogden City, Utah, Police Department, and is
currently assigned to the uniform division as a watch commander. He has served as the commander
of a multijurisdictional drug enforcement task force, and as the commander of a multijurisdictional
homicide investigation task force. Lieutenant Ashmet has been recognized by the Utah Department
of Corrections for his efforts in developing and sustaining a healthy partnership between corrections
and local law enforcement. He works to improve systems to enhance information sharing and collaboration between the two agencies in an effort to reduce recidivism. He has an M.A. in organizational management, a B.S. in criminal justice, and is a recent graduate of the FBI National Academy.

James Bueermann
Jim Bueermann has worked for the Redlands, California, Police Department since 1978, serving
in every unit within the department. He was appointed police chief and director of housing, recreation, and senior services in May 1998. He has been involved extensively with the research and
development of risk and protective-focused prevention (RPFP) as a strategic crime prevention
model and community-building tool. His work in this area has resulted in the ongoing development
and evaluation of risk-focused policing, an innovative community-policing strategy, which integrates community-oriented policing and problem solving, RPFP, and advanced computer-mapping
technologies. He has been involved with prisoner reentry issues for several years, participating in
regional, national, and international forums as well as working with the California Department of
Corrections. He is the co-founder of California’s second—and southern California’s first—Police and
Corrections Team (PACT). There are now PACTs throughout California and they are a critical part
of the state’s restructuring of its parole system. He currently sits on the Prisoner Reentry Institute
Advisory Board of John Jay College in New York City. He holds a bachelor’s degree from California
State University at San Bernardino and a master’s degree from the University of Redlands. He is a
graduate of the FBI National Academy and the California Command College.

Edward F. Davis III
Edward F. Davis III is a 25-year veteran of the Lowell Police Department and a lifelong resident of
Lowell, Massachusetts. He rose through the ranks holding a variety of positions, including captain
in charge of community policing and commander of the regional narcotics unit. He was appointed
superintendent of police in 1994. A community-policing pioneer, Davis reengineered the department
using geographic assignment of all personnel to storefront “precincts” that represent each neighborhood. He was appointed by Governor Mitt Romney to the Department of Corrections Advisory
Council and to the Commission on MedicoLegal Investigation. ­Superintendent Davis holds both
a bachelor’s and master’s degree in criminal justice, and attended the John F. Kennedy School of
Government’s Program for Senior Government Executives at Harvard University. He was the recipient of the National Institute of Justice Pickett Fellowship.

Biographies of Participants in the Forum on Mapping for Police-Led Prisoner Reentry	

33

Jeffrey Gersh
Mr. Gersh is the Chief of Research & Evaluation at the Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control
and Prevention where he provides guidance on data collection, data analysis, and process/outcome
evaluations. Prior to joining the governor’s office, Mr. Gersh worked at the Washington/Baltimore
High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (W/B HIDTA) where he was responsible for assessing the
performance of local, state, and federal drug enforcement task forces. In addition to his evaluation
activities, he helped to establish and supervise the HIDTA’s mapping and crime analysis unit. Mr.
Gersh also provided scientific guidance on data collection and research design to the W/B HIDTA
director, W/B HIDTA staff, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and several federal, state, and
local criminal justice entities. Mr. Gersh has a master’s degree in criminal justice from the University
of Baltimore.

Nancy La Vigne
Nancy La Vigne is a Senior Research Associate at the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, where
she directs several projects related to prisoner reentry, policing, and crime prevention. She is project director of Returning Home, a multi-state, longitudinal study of prisoner reentry; and principal
investigator for the Reentry Mapping Network, a consortium of thirteen jurisdictions that are mapping and analyzing reentry and corrections data to help inform local reentry initiatives. La Vigne is
also leading a study in partnership with the Washington Metro Transit Police to prevent car crime
in Metro’s commuter parking facilities. Prior to her current position, La Vigne was founding director of the National Institute of Justice’s Crime Mapping Research Center. She also served as research
director for the Texas Punishment Standards Commission. La Vigne holds a Ph.D. from Rutgers
University, a master’s degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, and a
B.A. from Smith College.

John Markovic
John Markovic manages several federally-funded projects for the International Association of Chiefs
of Police, including the Protecting Citizen’s Civil Rights Project and IACP’s contribution to an initiative that is developing a national GIS system. Before coming to IACP in 2004, John was a senior planner/crime analyst at the Vera Institute of Justice in New York, where he played a role in coordinating
the development of New York State’s intranet-based, cross-jurisdictional crime-mapping system,
now in use by law enforcement agencies across the state. Previously, John worked on the Project on
Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, developing indices of neighborhood well-being
by combining data from the U.S. census; police and other justice agencies; public health data sets;
and field interviews. John holds a master of arts in criminal justice from the University of Illinois at
Chicago.

Philip Mielke
Philip Mielke has been employed by the Redlands Police Department since 2001 as the COMPASS
Analyst under the NIJ-funded Community Mapping, Planning, and Analysis for Safety Strategies
Initiative. Philip was instrumental in the development of the East Valley Spatial Data Warehouse and
Citizen COMPASS. His practical experience with GIS began in 1997 when he chaired an initiative
through the University of Redlands biology department to acquire and implement a GIS for mammalian ecology and white-tailed deer tracking. Philip headed an undergraduate, award-winning
presentation on crime analysis in 2000 at the American Association of Geographers conference while
working at the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission. He holds undergraduate degrees
in biology and philosophy from Wittenberg University and is currently enrolled in the University
of Redlands International MS GIS Program. He is the recipient of the NIJ MAPS Conference Best
Cartographic Design Award in 2005 and the California Crime and Intelligence Analysts Association
Innovation Award in 2006.
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Mapping for Community-Based Prisoner Reentry Efforts

Terry Morgan
Commander Terry Morgan has over 24 years of law enforcement experience and currently oversees
the investigations division of the Redmond, Washington, Police Department. He chairs the Firearm
Crime Enforcement Coalition (FACE) for the King County chiefs’ organization, and works closely
with the Western District of Washington Project Safe Neighborhoods program. Morgan was a driving force in the development of the FACE program, which has improved training for police officers
and firearm crime case management in all of King County. In 1992, Morgan was a co-founder of
the SMART partnership (Supervision Management And Recidivist Tracking) with the Washington
State Department of Corrections. SMART was one of the first formal police-corrections partnership
programs in the country and has served as a model partnership program for law enforcement and
community corrections. Commander Morgan is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and the
Northwest Law Enforcement Command College. He was the recipient of the Puget Sound Chapter
of the American Society of Industrial Security’s 2002 Law Enforcement Leadership Award.

Blake Norton
Blake Norton is Director of Public Affairs & Community Programs for the Boston, Massachusetts,
Police Department, where she serves as the senior program administrator of the Boston Ex-Offender
Reentry Initiative, a law enforcement, faith-based, and prosecution partnership to reduce crime and
victimization in targeted high-crime neighborhoods of Boston. She serves on the mayor’s Reentry
Board, Boston’s Workforce Development Council, and has been a guest lecturer at the Regional Community Policing Institute for New England, teaching community partnership and negotiation. Ms.
Norton is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts–Boston, and received her master’s degree in
community education and administration from the Boston University School of Education.

Lee Ragsdale
Lee Ragsdale has served as the Community Corrections Program Manager with the Knoxville Police
Department since 1998. His duties include general operation and management of the Knoxville Public Safety Collaborative, a multi-agency partnership that seeks to enhance public safety by providing
enhanced, proactive, and coordinated treatment and supervision services to high-risk/multipleneeds probation and parole offenders living in the City of Knoxville. Mr. Ragsdale is a member of
the Knox County Sex Offender Task Force, the Knox County Drug Court Treatment Team, and the
Tennessee ­Reentry Collaborative. He serves on the Helen Ross McNabb Juvenile Justice Advisory
Board, the Tennessee Community Resource Board for the Department of Corrections, the Board of
Probation and Parole, and as a board member of the Midway Rehabilitation Center. Before coming
to Knoxville, Mr. Ragsdale was a juvenile probation officer and supervisor with the State of North
Carolina for nearly fifteen years. He has a B.A. in political science from the University of Tennessee
at Knoxville and an M.S.W. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dora Schriro
Dr. Schriro was appointed Director of the Arizona Department of Corrections by Governor Janet
Napolitano on July 1, 2003. With more than 20 years of corrections experience, she was the first
woman to lead two state correctional systems. Prior to her appointment as director in Arizona, Dr.
Schriro served as the commissioner of the St. Louis, Missouri, Division of Corrections and as the
director of the Missouri Department of Corrections from 1993 to mid-2001. Before joining the Missouri state system in 1993 as director, Dr. Schriro was the correctional superintendent for the City
of St. Louis. She served as assistant commissioner in the New York City Department of Corrections
from 1985–1989. Dr. Schriro earned a juris doctorate from St. Louis University, a doctorate from
Columbia University, a master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and a bachelor
of arts cum laude from Northeastern University. Her work has earned four Innovations in American
Government awards from the JFK School of Government and three Innovations awards from the
Biographies of Participants in the Forum on Mapping for Police-Led Prisoner Reentry	

35

Council of State and Local Government. Dr. Schriro received the National Governors’ Association
Distinguished Service Award in August 2006.

Kurt Smith
Kurt Smith is the Director of Community Analysis and Technology for the Redlands, California,
Police Department, where he oversees crime and community analysis, GIS and database development and support, applied technology development, and high-tech crime investigations. He is the
president of the California Crime and Intelligence Analyst Association and director of the East Valley
COMPASS regional data-sharing and crime-mapping initiative. He holds a B.A. in geography and an
M.P.A.

A.T. Wall
A.T. Wall has served as Director of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections since 2000. Mr.
Wall’s career in corrections began in 1976 as a probation officer. After graduating from law school, he
served as a prosecutor in Manhattan and then as director of a sentencing project for chronic offenders convicted by the New York City courts. He returned to his native Rhode Island and joined the
Department of Corrections in 1987 as assistant director. Mr. Wall received a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Yale Law School.

Ronald Wilson
Ron Wilson directs the Mapping & Analysis for Public Safety Program (MAPS) and the Data
Resources Program at the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) in Washington D.C. His interests include
developing GIS tools and software for use in the area of crime analysis, exploratory spatial data
analysis (ESDA) tools, software engineering in GIS, and building a National Spatial Crime Data
repository. At NIJ, Mr. Wilson is applying and advising on spatial data analysis methods as they
apply to various criminological research projects, including a policy implementation analysis to
curb violent crime using spatial analysis techniques; understanding the diffusion effects of religious
institutions on homicide rates to identify areas for better modeling; and understanding the effects of
mass incarceration on neighborhoods using spatial regression. He is also assisting in the restructuring of the next version of CrimeStat. In 2000, he received the AlGore National Partnership for Reinventing Government Award for his development of the analysis toolbox of a regional crime analysis
GIS known as RCAGIS that is now used in the Baltimore Metropolitan Region. He received a B.A. in
geology from Thiel College, a master’s in geography, specializing in GIS, from Indiana University of
Pennsylvania, and is currently working on a master’s degree in software engineering at the University of Maryland at College Park.

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Mapping for Community-Based Prisoner Reentry Efforts

Police Foundation
1201 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036-2636
www.policefoundation.org

 

 

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