The Prisoner Reentry Institute (PRI) was founded in 2005 as one of twelve institutes that collectively comprise the Research Consortium of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. PRI is engaged in educational initiatives for currently and formerly incarcerated individuals, fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students at John Jay, and research projects and convenings on topics related to reentry.

What is “Prisoner Reentry”? More than 650,000 people leave our nation’s prisons each year. They face a multitude of post-release challenges as they seek to reintegrate into their communities. They must find stable housing and employment. They need to secure physical and mental health care. They require social supports and services to ensure their success. To address the needs of these individuals, the broad term “reentry” gained traction in 1999 in conversations at the federal level among then National Institute of Justice Director Jeremy Travis, Assistant Attorney General for Justice Programs Laurie Robinson, and Attorney General Janet Reno, who asked: What is being done for and about “all the people coming out of prison?” To explore the best way to provide social services and rehabilitative supports for people returning from incarceration, and to combat the problem of recidivism, the new field of prisoner reentry was born, adopting its name from a term that had been used previously in John Irwin’s 1970 writings on the prison experience.

The Prisoner Reentry Institute. In 2004, after several years of work on prisoner reentry as a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, Jeremy Travis was appointed President of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. One year later, along with Founding Director Debbie Mukamal, PRI was established as part of John Jay’s Research Consortium. Now under the leadership of Ann Jacobs, PRI’s staff of academics, project coordinators, advisors, and administrators oversees a broad array of direct services, student programs, research, and policy advocacy serving students, scholars, policymakers, practitioners, and the justice involved.


What unites PRI’s diverse areas of interest and impact is our desire to better understand what it takes for justice-involved people to live successfully in their communities. This includes not just providing direct service for affected individuals, but also finding and providing the knowledge and skills needed by professionals charged with guiding, supporting, and supervising these individuals. We group our work into four broad categories:

  • Educational Initiatives. In addition to policy advocacy work and research, our educational initiatives include direct service programs like the Prison-to-College Pipeline, which offers college-level classes in prisons, and College Initiative, which provides academic counseling and enrollment assistance for the formerly incarcerated.
  • Fellowship Initiatives. Our fellowship initiatives include direct service for undergraduate and graduate students at John Jay. The Pinkerton Community Fellowship, the Pinkerton Graduate Community Fellowship, and the Tow Policy Advocacy Fellowship all place emphasis on three components: hands-on work experience in a stipended service learning placement, specially designed coursework to support these placements, and professional enrichment opportunities.
  • Special Projects. PRI is engaged in a number of other projects and initiatives affecting justice-involved and returning citizens, including hosting convenings that facilitate conversations among stakeholders, such as our Occasional Series on Research in Reentry, which features scholars presenting emerging reentry research in conversation with policymakers and practitioners, and our twice-yearly Pinkerton Youth Justice Symposium, which brings together approximately 200 stakeholders to define, discuss, and align efforts on the most significant issues facing the field of youth justice.

We do all of this with full access to the wealth of resources provided by John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the preeminent international leader in educating for justice in its many dimensions.


The mission of the Prisoner Reentry Institute (PRI) at John Jay College of Criminal Justice is to spur innovation and improve practice in the field of reentry by advancing knowledge; translating research into effective policy and service delivery; and fostering effective partnerships between criminal justice and non-criminal justice disciplines. PRI works towards this mission by focusing its efforts on the following types of projects and activities:

  • Developing, Managing, and Evaluating Innovative Reentry Projects.
  • Providing Practitioners and Policymakers with Cutting Edge Tools and Expertise.
  • Promoting Education Opportunities for Currently and Formerly Incarcerated Individuals as a Vehicle for Successful Reentry and Reintegration.
  • Identifying “Pulse Points” and Creating Synergy Across Fields and Disciplines.


PRI wishes to thank John Jay’s Office for the Advancement of Research for providing financial support for this website.