An experimental evaluation of a nationally recognized employment-focused offender reentry program
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The need for re-entry assistance is widely acknowledged, but specifics about what services actually lead to reduced recidivism are hard to find—at least among rigorous studies. This is a critical issue: at a time when there appears to be unprecedented support for expanding rehabilitative programs for offenders, there is a dearth of rigorously vetted program options from which to choose.
Collaborating with a nationally known employment-focused reentry program in Southern California, the authors compared employment, housing, and recidivism outcomes of reentering offenders (n = 217) who were either randomized into the program or simply provided with a list of community resources. This approach was possible because the number of applicants at the time exceeded program capacity. Outcomes were based on self-report interviews conducted 1-year post-randomization and arrest records reflecting a 2-year follow-up period. The follow-up rate for interviews was 87 %.
No significant differences were found for any of the between-group comparisons on any of the major intervention outcomes.
Findings from the study suggest a greater need to apply randomized designs to more carefully evaluate current reentry efforts. Methodological challenges of field experiments are also discussed.
KeywordsExperiment Ex-offender Reentry Employment
This study was funded by the Smith Richardson Foundation (Grant No: 2008: 7752).
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