The Safe Return Initiative (SRI) was created by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women to confront the myriad challenges facing African-Americans as previously incarcerated men reunite with their families. SRI provides technical assistance and support to grantees of the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative, a federal effort that addresses reentry strategies for populations of serious, high-risk offenders. SRI’s technical assistance entails community education, training, and on-site assistance to criminal justice professionals and community- and faith-based organizations. Efforts are focused on helping these grantees confront the obstacles that prevent the successful reunification of newly released prisoners and families in their communities, while decreasing the vulnerability of such families to domestic violence. Specifically, these efforts include the following:

  • Training parole officers, corrections officers, faith leaders, employment specialists, domestic violence advocates, and others toward refining their roles in addressing domestic violence among African-American ex-offenders;
  • Facilitating conversations to promote a comprehensive, coordinated, community-specific approach to victim safety and offender accountability;
  • Providing tailored, on-site assistance to professional groups toward helping them understand their role in preventing and intervening in domestic violence; and
  • Identifying lessons learned that grantees can share with peers in other jurisdictions.

SRI was initially launched as a partnership between the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community (IDVAAC) and the Vera Institute of Justice, which lent its expertise in solidifying the knowledge base regarding prisoner re-entry issues. The initiative is now an IDVAAC-led program, as dictated by a shifting focus to prioritize domestic violence prevention and intervention efforts while providing technical assistance to federal grantees around such issues.