Recidivism and Workforce Development Project

The Problem

In 2013, 23,989 individuals were released from prison in New York State. Over half of these individuals are considered "high-risk" for reconviction, and it is estimated that in the five years after release, they will spend an average of 460 days incarcerated per person. Recidivism is costly to government, dangerous for public safety, and harmful to formerly incarcerated individuals and their families. 

The Basics

Location: Rochester and New York, NY

Policy area: Recidivism, workforce development

Population served: 2,000 formerly incarcerated individuals under community supervision who are at high-risk of returning to prison

Service provider: Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO)

Size of investment: $13.5 million

Maximum payments possible: $23.5 million (includes cost of intermediary and evaluation)

Investors: 40+ investors including Bank of America Merrill Lynch private and institutional investors, The Robin Hood Foundation, and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation

Intermediary: Social Finance

Other partners: Harvard Kennedy School SIB Lab (technical assistance),  Jones Day (legal assistance), The Rockefeller Foundation (credit enhancement)

Evaluators: New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision ResearchNew York State Department of Labor Research

Validator: Chesapeake Research Associates 

Evaluation methodology: Randomized control trial

Outcome payors: U.S. Department of Labor and NYS Department of Labor

Outcomes that yield payments: (1) Recidivism bed days avoided, (2) indication of positive earnings after release from prison, (3) number of members who start a CEO transitional job

Timeframe: 4 year service delivery term; 5.5 year repayment term and evaluation period

Project start: December 1, 2013

Photo via Shutterstock.

The Intervention

Intervention: Comprehensive employment services from CEO provide five days of life skills training, place participants in short-term transitional jobs, and provide one-on-one job search support. After job placement, participants are supported by job retention specialists.

Evidence base behind the intervention: A 2012 randomized control trial showed reductions in recidivism of 16 to 22 percent, particularly for participants with the highest risk of recidivating. The study also found short-term increases in employment and suggested that the program could be cost beneficial.

The effectiveness of the intervention for the target population was evaluated, and the service provider had provided this intervention previously.