Performance Improvement 2009. How Can We Help Ex-prisoners Find and Keep Employment?


This random assignment evaluation examined impacts of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) Prisoner Reentry Program. CEO uses a distinctive transitional employment model. After a four-day job readiness class, participants are placed in temporary, minimum wage jobs with work crews that perform maintenance or repair work under contract to city and state agencies. Participants are paid daily. Within weeks, they receive help finding permanent jobs and follow-up services to promote employment retention. The evaluation targeted a key subset of CEO's population - ex-prisoners who showed up at the program after being referred by a parole officer. CEO is one of four sites in the Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ Demonstration and Evaluation project.

CEO generated a large, but short-lived increase in employment covered by unemployment insurance (UI). During the early months of follow-up, when many in the program group worked in CEO crews (jobs covered by UI), the employment rate for the program group was 30 to 40 percentage points higher than for the control group. However, the program group's employment rate dropped as people left CEO jobs, and the difference between the groups disappeared by the end of the year. Nevertheless, there was a small but statistically significant decrease in felony convictions and incarceration for new crimes during Year 1. Among those who came to CEO within three months after release, the program produced statistically significant decreases in parole revocations, felony convictions, re-incarceration for new crimes, and re-incarceration. Effects on these measures are rarely seen in rigorous evaluations. The pattern of employment impacts is similar to that for the full sample, though the impacts seem to have declined more slowly for this subgroup.

Report Title: The Center for Employment Opportunities Prisoner Reentry Program: Early Impacts from a Random Assignment Evaluation
Agency Sponsor: ACF-OPRE, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
Federal Contact: Girley Wright, 202-401-5070
Performer: MDRC
PIC ID: 8832

View full report


"PerformanceImprovement2009.pdf" (pdf, 1.26Mb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®