Examines a demonstration project based on the core premise that helping formerly incarcerated individuals find and maintain stable and legal employment will reduce recidivism and increase public safety.
In November 2005, the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) awarded grants to 30 Faith-Based and Community Organizations to implement a Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative (PRI) Demonstration. The Initiative looked to strengthen communities affected by large numbers of formerly incarcerated individuals through employment-centered projects that incorporate education, job training, housing referrals, mentoring, and other comprehensive transitional services. The demonstration was based on the core premise that helping formerly incarcerated individuals find and maintain stable and legal employment will reduce recidivism and increase public safety....The evaluation team analyzed demographic, programmatic, output and recidivism information from grantee operations and participants. In addition, the evaluation analyzed the costs to participating communities for their provision of services to the formerly incarcerated individuals returning to their communities. (Abstractor: Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

• "Grantees continued to make progress toward the goal of placing participants in employment, with two-thirds placed in unsubsidized employment and about half of these placed within three weeks of enrollment" (p.xvi). • "Recidivism rates across all grantees appear low" (p.xix). • "Nearly all participants received work readiness training, although receipt of occupational skill training was limited by participants’ low educational levels, time constraints, need for immediate income, and community supervision employment requirements" (p.xx). • "Despite the wide range of service offerings, the length of participation in PRI was relatively short" (p.xxii). • "Sites continued to confront operational challenges related to participant tracking and retention in the program and after exit" (p.xxii). • "Over time, projects increased their use of incentives for participants to attend certain activities or complete certain tasks or benchmarks" (p.xxiii). • "Enrollment strategies increasingly focused on motivated or suitable candidates, with projects targeting ex-offenders who were likely to benefit from the services" (p.xxiii). • "Grantees enrolled participants who faced multiple challenges to employment and reintegration, including low educational levels, poor work histories, substance abuse, and lack of housing" (p.xxiv). • "Substance abuse poses a major barrier throughout the re-entry process" (p.xxv). • "Sites concentrated on building partnerships with criminal justice agencies, and often relied on existing relationships with partners in other fields [such as housing and substance abuse counseling] to assist PRI participants" (p.xvi). (Abstractor: Author)