Examines employment strategies for ex-offenders as well as key takeaways for Second Chance grantees and other programs serving formally incarcerated individuals.

“In 2008, federal policymakers made the single largest investment to date toward reducing recidivism by passing the Second Chance Act. The legislation creates a dedicated funding stream for 'prisoner reentry'—programs that help returnees prepare for employment, connect to affordable housing and access other supports that may ease the transition between incarceration and life on the outside.

More is known about the effects of imprisonment on employment than the effects of employment on recidivism. While research tells us that former inmates who hold jobs are less likely to recidivate, few evaluations of job training and placement programs serving the formerly incarcerated concretely point to specific interventions we know to be successful. Responding to this challenge, the Annie E. Casey Foundation asked Public/Private Ventures (P/PV) to distill relevant lessons from research on employment programs for a range of disadvantaged populations and create a resource that will be useful for Second Chance grantees as they develop employment strategies” (p.4-5). (Abstractor: Author).

Major Findings & Recommendations

Major findings include: 1. “Experience Counts—at the Organizational and Staff Level. The experience levels of the implementing organization and its staff are cited frequently in research reports as a key factor in the success of employment programs" (p.22). 2. “…Significant experience is needed for effective sector-based training programs, which require a deep understanding of industry needs and the ability to respond as those needs change” (pp.22-23). 3. “Employer Connections Are Also Crucial. Whether it’s the Rolodex of a trained job developer focused on immediate employment, or the relationships inherent in delivering a training program that meets the needs of local manufacturers, real, live connections to local employers are essential for workforce programs to be successful” (p.23). 4. “Providing the Right Services to the Right Person at the Right Time Is Key" (p.23). A. "Target those who can benefit from your services. For example, sector-based training programs make considerable investments in finding the right candidates. They frequently test for the basic skills necessary to master the technical aspects of training and establish industry/occupation-specific entrance requirements (e.g., a driver’s license with no more than five violation points)” (p.23). B."Meet participants where they are. Understanding your participants’ skills and needs will help you identify not only the right employment strategy, but also the other kinds of support they will require” (p.24). C. "Be realistic about what interventions can achieve. Some interventions may have the capacity to permanently alter the trajectory of someone’s life (and, as such, may be worth the significant investment of resources they typically require). Sector-based training programs, for example, help participants build skills that may position them for a lifetime of better jobs and higher income. Not all programs can reasonably be expected to have that kind of impact. But different approaches are appropriate for different people at different times” (p.23). D."Provide connections to “next step” programs" (p.24). (Abstractor: Author).