NORC at The University of Chicago Finds Concordance Re-Entry Model Demonstrates Consistent Decreases in Likelihood of Recidivism

Concordance is a St. Louis-based, CARF accredited non-profit, that offers the country’s first set of integrated, holistic, and evidence-informed services to individuals returning to society from prison. The Concordance Re-Entry Model assists participants in three primary areas: behavioral health and wellness; education and employment; and community and life skills. To demonstrate the effectiveness of the Concordance Re-Entry Model, Concordance engaged NORC at the University of Chicago, one of the largest independent social research organizations in the United States since 1941, to conduct two research studies. First, a Quasi-Experimental Design (QED) study and second, a Randomized Control Trial (RCT). In July 2021, NORC completed the QED study and published their results. The RCT results will be published in 2022.

 As noted in the report, “The Concordance Re-Entry Model is supportive of prior research suggesting that strong, evidence-based models combined with implementation fidelity offer the highest probability of success within this difficult to serve population. These results were reported as particularly promising as the Concordance Re-Entry Model is designed to be replicated and scaled, thus the results hold promise beyond the communities Concordance currently serves.”

The QED research study looked at Concordance participants from classes 7-14[1] and compared them to a comparison group of justice involved individuals. The comparison group included individuals returning to the St. Louis area from Missouri state prisons who were comparable to the Concordance participant demographic, including type of offenses and length of incarceration. While the QED study sample is small, as is typical among recidivism research, the results are promising, especially compared to broader prisoner evaluation studies which shows small or no effects.

More interesting is the research NORC did on classes 11-14[2] after a significant shift in programming occurred. As stated in the report, “the shift in programming represented an early evolution in programming based on lessons learned in the field. The program in operation today closely aligns with the practices in classes 11-14 and less closely with classes 7-10.”

Key insights from classes 11-14 included:

  • Concordance is one of a few comprehensive programs within the United States that has seen a significant reduction in recidivism.
  • Concordance participants were 78% less likely to be reincarcerated after 12 months post-release.
  • Concordance participants were 48% less likely to violate parole after 12 months post-release. Parole violation is indicative of a behavioral change, versus a policy change.
  • Concordance participants have attributes that are associated with a higher risk of recidivism than the comparison group.

“The findings in this report are a turning point for our organization,” said Sarah Topal, Concordance Chief Quality and Research Officer. “We are excited to present the first of several reports from third-party evaluator, NORC, illustrating the effectiveness of our model in the St. Louis community. These findings not only help our organization understand the true impact that the Concordance Re-Entry Model has but its potential to drastically disrupt the cycle of reincarceration as we scale our model nationally.”

NORC’s full QED research report can be found on their website here.

[1] Classes 7-14 included participants re-entering the community between May 2018 and August 2019

[2] Classes 11-14 included participants re-entering the community between January 2019 and August 2019

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