Employment Initiatives For Offenders Gerald Melnick, Ph.D. National Development and Research Institutes, Inc
High Rates of Recidivism More than 650,000 prisoners are released each year About two-thirds return to jail or prison within two to three years (Prisoner Reentry Institute, 2006; U.S. Dept. of Justice, 2007).
Unemployment > Recidivism • A primary cause of this high rate of recidivism is unemployment. (Andrews 1995; Gendreau et al 1998; Petersilia, 2005) • Without employment, ex-convicts are three to five times more likely to commit a crime than are those who gain employment after leaving prison (Jackson,1990)
The Cards are Stacked Ex-felons frequently face barriers to finding permanent, unsubsidized employment. • Lack occupational skills, • Little experience seeking employment • Employers who are uneasy about hiring offenders • State and Federal laws bar them from some occupations (Finn 1999; Sonfield, 2008).
The Opportunities Limited As a result, ex-felons are often relegated to low-level jobs, which not only do not pay well and offer little hope for future advancement. Ex-felons engaged in such dead-end jobs have a smaller stake in the conformity and are more likely to engage in criminal activity (Crutchfield, 1997).
The Desire is There • Offenders identify employment services as an integral part of their improved overall functioning (Kemp 2004) and in maintaining a crime free existence (Visher et al.,2006) • 78% of the offenders enrolled in a vocational services program completed the program • 134/245 (55%) of those were able to obtain employment(Kemp, 2004)
Employment as ReinforcementAmong Substance Abusers • Contingency (employment in therapeutic workplace) participants accepted significantly more naltrexone injections than prescription participants (87% versus 52%, p=.002), and • They were more likely to accept all injections (74% versus 26%. (DeFulioA,, 2012)
Substance Abuse Treatment and Employment • Overall, engagement in SAT was not significant for employment outcomes. • However, for clients with prior criminal justice involvement, engagement was associated with both employment and higher wages following treatment. (Dunigan, 2013).
Beginning to Meet the Challenge The National Institute of Corrections (NIC) has developed competency-based specialist training programs built on CBT and MI techniques in three critical areas: • Offender Employment Specialist • Offender Employment Retention Specialist • Offender Workforce Development Specialist
Therapeutic Workplace – mixed results • Participants in two clinical trials attended the therapeutic workplace at higher rates during the programthan they worked before intake or 6 months afterdischarge from the program. • These data suggest that unemployed chronic drug misusers will attend work at higher rates at the therapeutic workplace than in the community (Sigurdsson , 2011)
Practical Skills Training • Skills training was provided for completing job application forms, job searching, and job interviews. • The training process included instruction, modeling, role-playing and feedback. • Improvements were demonstrated across all skills and generalized to real community settings (Taylor, 2011)
Job Seekers Workshop-Skills Approach • Sequence of 3 weekly sessions that focused on job interview rehearsals, practice completing job applications, and identification of job leads showed modest pre-post gains. (Hamdi,,2011) • No gains in a study of American Indians (Foley, 2010).
Web-based Training Preliminary data on the Web-based intervention suggest that it should be able to teach adults with histories of chronic unemployment and drug addiction to become skilled data entry operators in about 3 to 6 months (Silverman, 2005).
Comprehensive Programs • Assessment, • Job matching • Job training, • Job Placement, • Support services (coaching and continued support)
Examples • Ready4work • The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) (includes paid transitional work)
Entrepreneurship Training The Prisoner Reentry Institute at John Jay College published “Venturing Beyond the Gates” concluding that entrepreneurship training is a viable path to economic self-sufficiency.
Entrepreneurship training as not something different from treatment. The integration of entrepreneurship into substance abuse treatment provides the education, training, and resources to enter the job market, and can help support treatment centers and provide job experience (Sonfield, 2008)
Examples of Entrepreneurial Programs The DelanceyStreet Foundation (http://www.delanceystreetfoundation.org/enterprises.php) teaches social entrepreneurial skills to its residents. • Created 12 successful enterprises that have generated revenue to support about 60% of its budget • Taught marketable skills that include manual skills, clerical and computer skills, and interpersonal, and sales skills.
Examples of Entrepreneurial Programs Homeboy Industries (http://www.homeboyindustries.org/) • They operate seven social enterprises that serve as job-training sites: cafe, farmers markets, diner, merchandise, grocery, bakery, and embroidery. • Provide employment services, education, case management, legal and medical services.
Examples of Entrepreneurial Programs The Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers (TROSA) (http://www.trosainc.org/) is a multi-year residential treatment program • Teaches marketable job skills in customer service, computer, and phone skills and specific hard skills to help its residents gain employment on re-entry to the community.
Examples of Entrepreneurial Programs Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) (http://www.prisonentrepreneurship.org) Defy Ventures (http://defyventures.org) • Links business and academics with program participants through an MBA-level class and mentor relationships.
Examples of Entrepreneurial Programs The Amity Foundation’s new Center for Social Entrepreneurship (ACSE) • Brings together the life skills from the therapeutic community and the hard job skills from entrepreneurial and vocational training in 3 businesses to facilitate successful reentry.