“I'm 17 years in prison and I'll be 19 years in when I get out. The whole world will be different, and it will be a total shock.” This quote from an incarcerated North Carolina man captures his fear of being released from prison and into a community and not knowing if he would make it.

“Making it” ultimately means avoiding the all-too-common fate of ending up back in prison. To avoid that fate, incarcerated adults like the one above need the skills and credentials they typically don't have. And they need help with substance abuse and physical and mental health issues, with finding stable housing and reliable transportation, and with balancing the need to keep a living-wage job and continue their education.

Fortunately, the incarcerated man above got a chance to make it. He participated in the Pathways from Prison to Postsecondary Education demonstration project in North Carolina, which creates a continuum of college education and reentry support services for incarcerated adults. He began the program two years ago while in prison and continued it in the community after release.

The Pathways program is part of a growing national and state trend to provide college programs to incarcerated adults. While the trend is still in its infancy, we need to understand what does and doesn't work. Our evaluation of the Pathways program followed inmates through their time in prison and then into communities in North Carolina where they were released.

Read the full article about helping former prisoners adapt to the outside by Lois M. Davis and Michelle C. Tolbert at RAND Corporation.