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John Koufos

National Director of Reentry Initiatives

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

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Data-Driven Reentry Initiative Tackles Recidivism

| January 24, 2018

The United States spends roughly 80 billion dollars per year on its various federal, state and local, prison systems.  The return on that investment has been a recidivism rate of approximately seventy percent.  Newt Gingrich’s comment aptly summarizes the problem with those numbers:

“If two-thirds of public school students dropped out, or two-thirds of all bridges built collapsed within three years, would citizens tolerate it? But that is exactly what is happening all across the U.S. in our prison systems.”

Ninety-five percent of inmates will be released at some point, and effective reentry policy translates into safer communities, lower prison costs, and increased employment opportunities.  With today’s launch of Safe Streets & Second Chances (S3C) researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors have come together to help identify and implement proven approaches driven by academic research.  This initiative marries research and policy to advance data-driven solutions.

The research component is led by Dr. Carrie Pettus-Davis at Florida State University’s College of Social Work.  Dr. Pettus-Davis will begin her research with a four state, eight-site, randomized, controlled trial involving more than 1,000 participants from urban and rural communities.  This research will inform policy that promotes and helps implement effective reentry practices, including a comprehensive needs assessment at the beginning of an inmate’s sentence.  This will allow individualized reentry programming to be tailored to the person’s needs and help them address the root causes of their crimes.  For example, prisoners suffering from mental illness or addiction can be connected to treatment solutions.

By diagnosing and treating the underlying causes that led a person to prison, we can help prisoners become productive, law-abiding, taxpaying citizens who can pursue their own path to redemption.  The dignity of work cannot be overstated for those who seek to earn their second chance.  The results benefit all of society and include increased employment opportunities, sobriety, unified families, community involvement, and spirituality.

S3C is a project of the Right on Crime initiative at the Texas Public Policy Foundation with support from Koch Industries.  S3C has attracted multidisciplinary leaders, including Mark V. Holden (Koch Industries, Inc.), Brooke Rollins (Texas Public Policy Foundation), Doug Deason (The Deason Foundation), Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. SHRM-SCP (Society for Human Resource Management), Paula White-Cain (New Destiny Christian Center), Jenny Kim (Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC) and John Koufos (Right on Crime).


John Koufos is the National Director of Reentry Initiatives at Right on Crime and the Executive Director of Safe Streets & Second Chances.


John has been widely recognized for his professional advocacy and was previously certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a criminal trial attorney. He has tried complex jury trials to verdict and received numerous professional achievement awards and accolades.

John’s reentry work has been recognized by President Donald J. Trump, and he works with the public and private sector to build partnerships designed to lead to better employment outcomes and safer communities. John’s work began in New Jersey, where he helped the Christie Administration and five former Governors implement effective, evidence-based reentry services. John designed New Jersey’s nationally recognized legal program, combining staff lawyers with approximately 70 pro bono lawyers to help the reentry community clear old tickets and warrants and restore drivers licenses that lead to jobs. John’s lived experience on all sides of the criminal justice system makes him a credible spokesperson. His leadership in the business community was recognized in 2016 when NJBIZ named him one of New Jersey’s “Top 40 Under 40.” He is a regular speaker on criminal justice, healthcare and workforce development, and helps cities, states, and the federal government to optimize reentry systems.