Student Fellowship

Mapping the journey back to the community after incarceration

Project Area:

Public Safety


Kansas City, Missouri

Reporting to:

Deputy Policy Director (Office of the Mayor)

The Challenge

The state of Missouri has some of the highest rates of recidivism in the country. Of the 3,300 people who return to the Kansas City Metropolitan Area from the Kansas and Missouri Departments of Corrections each year, roughly half are likely to recidivate*. Even without control of what happens at the state and county level, city officials want to provide support to those returning to their community. While a variety of local reentry programs receive city support, to disrupt the cycle of incarceration, city officials believe that a more comprehensive approach is needed—one that leverages the variety of programs and partnerships that already exist and helps the city identify and fill the gaps that remain. 

The fellow working alongside Kansas City officials will help answer these key questions: 

  • Who is at highest risk of recidivism in Kansas City? 
  • What programs and organizations are currently serving people returning to Kansas City after incarceration?
  • What are the biggest unmet needs among people who have recidivated to Kansas City?
  • Where are the opportunities for more effective interventions to prevent recidivism? Are there helpful examples from other cities?

As systemic racism is a contributor to high rates of incarceration, the fellow will be responsible for understanding the experience of those from Black and Brown communities who have been incarcerated to inform an equitable approach to policy research and development.

The fellow will work closely with and inform the city’s recently launched Community Safety Partnership, which is part of the Department of Justice’s public safety partnership program. It is quarterbacked locally by the City (Mayor’s Office and Health Department), the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD), and the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, along with local community groups. This partnership will provide a comprehensive framework for long-term crime prevention, focused on intervention, enforcement, and trust building. Reducing recidivism is a key goal and measurement of success for this program. Recommendations from this project may also inform Mayor Lucas’ work as Chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Criminal and Social Justice Committee, where he works to elevate best practices and advocate for federal support of criminal justice reform and public safety initiatives.

What You'll Do

The fellow will be expected to produce the following: 

  • A landscape scan to identify key stakeholders, data sources, programs, and policies relating to or impacting reentry in Kansas City. 
  • Mixed-methods analysis of recidivism drivers as feasible, given data availability, access, and quality (e.g., quantitative analysis of highest risk individuals and neighborhoods, qualitative research and interviews with people who have experienced incarceration, etc.)
  • A “journey map” that clarifies opportunities for intervention so that the city can create a more effective and rehabilitative system for reentry from incarceration into society.
  • Best practices research to demonstrate how other cities have improved similar outcomes. 
  • A resource map for available services and programmatic analysis to identify gaps in current services offered and strengths to build upon.
  • Actionable short term and action-focused recommendations that are politically feasible and within the city’s control to implement.
  • Through their work, build trust with the partners engaged in the project.

Related deliverables to be defined in concert with the fellow based on their strengths and interests would likely include the following: a summary report of key findings; a visual journey map; a database of key programs/policies impacting reentry in Kansas City; slides or other presentation materials to support continued conversations about the recommendations from this project. 

What You'll Bring

The fellow will be expected to possess the following skills: 

  • Qualitative interviewing 
  • Design thinking and human-centered design skills 
  • Data analysis 
  • Policy analysis 
  • Strong writing and editing
  • Relationship and trust-building skills

Apply Here

* KC Common Good Impact Groups

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