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Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ Project Transitional Jobs for Ex-Prisoners: Early Impacts from a Random Assignment Evaluation of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) Prisoner Reentry Program. John Jay College of Criminal Justice Prisoner Reentry Institute March 2008

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Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ ProjectTransitional Jobs for Ex-Prisoners:Early Impacts from a Random Assignment Evaluation of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) Prisoner Reentry Program

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Prisoner Reentry Institute

March 2008

Presentation by: Dan Bloom

reentry and employment
Reentry and Employment
  • Wide range of barriers to successful reentry, but most experts believe employment is crucial.
  • Two types of labor market challenges:
    • Characteristics that make ex-prisoners hard-to-employ (limited work and education, health problems, etc.)
    • Additional impact of incarceration (legal barriers, employer discrimination).
  • Few proven employment models for this group.

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enhanced services for the hard to employ project
Enhanced Services for the Hard to Employ Project
  • Funded by US DHHS (with US DOL) to test promising employment strategies for groups facing serious barriers to steady work.
  • Led by MDRC, with Urban Institute and other partners.
  • Four sites, each targeting a different type of hard-to-employ population; like four separate studies.

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the center for employment opportunities ceo
The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO)
  • One of the largest and best known employment programs for ex-prisoners.
  • Started by the Vera Institute of Justice; independent since 1996.
  • Serves approximately 2,000 parolees annually.
  • Uses a transitional jobs (TJ) model; TJ widely seen as promising for ex-prisoners:
    • Source of legitimate income in critical post-release period.
    • Opportunity for staff to identify, correct workplace issues.

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the ceo model immediate work
The CEO Model: Immediate Work
  • Participants placed in CEO work crews (TJs) within one week after enrollment; supervised by CEO staff.
  • Work 4 days/week; paid daily.
  • Day 5: Meetings with job coach, job developer, fatherhood program, etc.
  • When deemed “job ready,” receive help finding permanent job, then retention services after placement.
  • Participation in CEO is voluntary for most, but meets a parole condition to seek or maintain employment.

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the ceo evaluation
The CEO Evaluation
  • During 2004-2005, ex-prisoners who showed up at CEO were assigned, at random, to:
    • Program group: Regular CEO program, or
    • Control group: Limited job search assistance.
  • Random assignment only in weeks when there were more participants than slots.
  • Sample size: 977 (P: 568; C: 409)

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the ceo evaluation target group
The CEO Evaluation: Target Group
  • Evaluation targets a subset of CEO’s population: parolees who showed up at CEO after referral by regular parole officer.
  • Other key CEO populations in special programs were not included in the study for contractual reasons.

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data now available
Data Now Available
  • Baseline data (self-reported).
  • Data on quarterly UI-covered employment (not earnings) in New York State.
  • Criminal justice data: arrests, convictions, parole status, and incarceration in NYS prisons.
  • Data from CEO Management Information System.

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characteristics of participants
Characteristics of Participants
  • Average age: 33
  • Over half are fathers; few live with children.
  • 2/3 African-American; 1/3 Latino.
  • 43% no high school diploma or GED.
  • 81% ever worked.
  • Average of 7 prior convictions; 5 years in prison.
  • Time since release:
    • 40% came to CEO within 3 months after release from state prison; model was designed for them.
    • 60% came to CEO longer after release (not expected).

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participation in ceo activities
Participation in CEO Activities
  • Good test:
    • 79% of program group completed initial 4-day life skills class.
    • 72% of program group worked in a CEO work crew.
    • Average of 8 weeks in work crew.

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impacts on employment and recidivism background
Impacts on Employment and Recidivism: Background
  • In addition to full sample, two groups are studied:
    • Recently released ex-prisoners: enrolled within 3 months after release (n=377; P=222, C=155)
    • Not recently released ex-prisoners: enrolled more than 3 months after release (n=551; P=314, C=237)
  • Currently have 1 year of follow-up (3 planned)
  • Reincarceration data do not yet include local jails.
  • Employment data include CEO jobs and non-CEO jobs but can’t yet distinguish (will be able to later).
  • Statistical significance levels: *=10% **=5% ***=1%

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impacts for full sample
Impacts for Full Sample
  • Large but short-lived increase in employment.
  • Small but statistically significant declines in two key recidivism measures (felony convictions; incarceration for new crime); no impacts on other measures.
  • But overall results hide a potentially important pattern.

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employment impacts for recently released initially large but decline
Employment Impacts for Recently Released: initially large but decline

Statistical significance levels: *=10% **=5% ***=1%

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recidivism impacts for recently released large in many areas
Recidivism Impacts for Recently Released: large in many areas

Statistical significance levels: *=10% **=5% ***=1%

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employment impacts for not recently released faster decline
Employment Impacts for Not Recently Released: faster decline

Statistical significance levels: *=10% **=5% ***=1%

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recidivism impacts for not recently released none
Recidivism Impacts for Not Recently Released: none

Statistical significance levels: *=10% **=5% ***=1%

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summary of subgroup findings
Summary of Subgroup Findings
  • Recently released group:
    • Large but short-lived increase in employment.
    • Substantial decreases in felony convictions, parole revocation, incarceration for new crimes, overall incarceration.
    • Rare to see recidivism impacts in random assignment study.
  • Not recently released group:
    • Employment impacts similar, but decay faster.
    • No impacts on recidivism measures.

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coming attractions
Coming Attractions
  • Up to 3 years of follow-up.
  • Additional data:
    • Survey of 500-550 sample members.
    • NYC jail data.
    • Individual-level earnings data and employer ID #s.
    • Child support payment data.
    • Implementation data.
  • Report planned for 2008.
  • The Joyce Foundation has developed another 4-site random assignment evaluation of TJ programs in Midwest.

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