“The Reintegration of Ex-Offenders (RExO) project began in 2005 as a joint initiative of the Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (ETA), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and several other federal agencies. RExO aimed to capitalize on the strengths of faith-based and community organizations (FBCOs) and their ability to serve prisoners seeking to re-enter their communities…In June 2009, ETA contracted with Social Policy Research Associates (SPR) and its subcontractors MDRC and NORC at the University of Chicago to conduct an impact evaluation of 24 RExO grantees. The results of the impact study are to be reported twice, first based on data from two years of study then again after three years of data collection. This is the first of those two reports” (p.I-1).
“The programs funded under RExO primarily provided three main types of services: mentoring…employment services…transitional employment…and case management and supportive services.
This report summarizes the impacts of the RExO program on offender outcomes in four areas: service receipt, labor market success, recidivism, and other outcomes. Using a random assignment…design…A total of 4,655 participants enrolled in the study, with approximately 60 percent (N=2,804) of those being assigned to the program group and 40 percent (N=1,851) assigned to the control group” (p.ES1).
“The results in this report are based on outcomes for these individuals in the two-year period after they enrolled into the study, and draws upon two sources of data to measure outcomes. The first of these was a telephone survey that asked about a range of items, including service receipt, labor market outcomes, recidivism, health and mental health, substance abuse, housing, and child support…The overall response rate to this survey was 76.9 percent. The second set of data used in this report was administrative data on criminal justice outcomes obtained from each of the 18 the states in which RExO grantees operated” (p.ES2).
A final report follows in 2015, which the authors note “will focus on impacts in the three-year period following RA…[and] administrative data on employment and earnings” (ES-4).(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)
Major Findings & Recommendations
The key findings in this report include the following: • “RExO significantly increased the number and types of services received. Program group members reported having received, on average, a wider array of services than control group members... • The economic downturn placed additional pressures on ex-offenders. Unemployment rates in grantee communities were high. Data gathered as part of the evaluation’s implementation study indicated that employers that previously hired ex-offenders subsequently had an abundant and overqualified pool of candidates vying for fewer jobs and were less willing to hire individuals with criminal backgrounds…In addition, cuts to state and local budgets as a result of the economic downturn reduced other services that could help ex-offenders smoothly re-enter society. • RExO significantly increased self-reported employment, within both the first and second years after RA [Random Assignment]. These increases were small…but statistically significant…However, there were no differences between the study groups in the total number of days employed in the two-year period following RA” (p.ES2). • “RExO had no effect on reported hourly wages, but did increase total reported income from all sources. There were no differences between the study groups in their reported hourly wages at either the first job obtained after RA or at their current or most recent job, but program group members reported higher average total income from all sources” (p.ES2-3). • “RExO had no effect on recidivism. Using both administrative data and survey data, program group members were no less likely to have been convicted of a crime or incarcerated than control group members... • There was little evidence that RExO affected an array of other outcomes. RExO had no effect on self-reported mental health, substance abuse, housing, and child support... Taken together, these findings present a mixed picture of the impact of RExO. On the one hand, it is clear that RExO increased the number and types of services received by program group members, and that it improved the self-reported labor market outcomes of participants as well. But there is little evidence this translated into any impacts on recidivism. Further, the impacts on employment, while statistically significant, are quite small in practical terms” (p.ES3). (Abstractor: Author and Website staff)