Release from prison often presents multiple and reinforcing challenges for formerly incarcerated people, including poor mental and physical health, substance use disorders, barriers to employment, and unstable housing. Supported accommodation for people released from prison is intended to ameliorate these co-occurring issues. Supported accommodation may take different forms, including group homes or scattered-site housing (which provide individuals or groups with their own accommodation) along with case management, or other therapeutic activities.

Published in Harm Reduction Journal, a recent systematic literature review described the current best available evidence regarding the key characteristics of supported accommodation services. It identified considerable variability in how these services operate and are evaluated.

There is limited evidence regarding the impact of supported accommodation for people released from prison, with most studies reporting exclusively on criminal justice outcomes. This is despite the fact that the challenges that people face upon release from prison extend to non-criminal justice domains, including barriers to housing, employment, health, and social services, higher rates of physical and mental illness, and higher risk of suicide and self-harm than the general population.

The specific challenges experienced by clients of supported accommodation for people released from prison, and how supported accommodation may help overcome them are not well documented.

The review found a positive effect of supported accommodation on reincarceration and parole revocation outcomes, although other outcomes had mixed direction of effect. Vocational training and employment skills and life skills program components may have a positive effect on parole revocations and reincarceration outcomes, however these findings should be interpreted with caution.

The impact of supported accommodation on health and criminal justice outcomes of people released from prison: a systematic literature review is available via Harm Reduction Journal.