Ventura County Project to Support Reentry

The Problem

California faces high levels of recidivism; according to a 2011 Pew Charitable Trusts study, 58 percent of individuals released from prison in California return to the system within three years, whereas the national average is 40 percent when California is excluded. The social and economic costs of recidivism are well-documented, including the ripple effect repeated incarceration of a parent can have on their children. Furthermore, approximately one percent of adults in the state are on probation, which cost California counties $1.5 billion on probation services in 2014.

The Basics

Location: Ventura County, CA

Policy area: Criminal Justice

Service provider: Interface Children & Family Services

Size of investment: $2.6 million

Maximum success payments possible: $2.85 million

Investors: Reinvestment Fund, Nonprofit Finance Fund, Blue Shield of California Foundation, the Whitney Museum of American Art

Intermediary: Social Finance

Other partners: Ventura County Executive Office; Ventura County Probation Agency; the Board of State and Community Corrections; Jones Day (legal counsel); Wilmington Trust; CA PFS Initiative, which is funded by the James Irvine Foundation and administered by the Nonprofit Finance Fund

Evaluator: Dr. David Farabee of the University of California, Los Angeles

Evaluation methodology: Randomized control trial

Outcome payor: Ventura County and California Board of State and Community Corrections

Outcomes that yield payments: Number of quarters in which each enrolled client is not arrested; reduction in recidivism over 12-month period

Timeframe: Four years

Date announced: November 2017

The Intervention

Intervention: Interface Children & Family Services will serve 400 medium-to-high risk adults on formal probation over four years. The agency will provide case management and individualized, reentry-focused services. These services include Moral Reconation Therapy, which consists of exercises and assignments to address criminogenic thinking; trauma-informed therapy, which empowers individuals and their families to support positive behavior; relationship and parenting skills-building classes; and employment support and placement.

Evidence base behind the intervention: A number of studies have been conducted on Moral Reconation Therapy’s effectiveness. A 2005 meta-analysis concluded that in general, MRT-treated groups show rearrest and reincarceration rates about 20-35 percent lower than that observed in nontreated offenders. This study, consistent with the prior meta-analysis, shows that short-term recidivism is cut by at least 50 percent in MRT-treated offenders. A 20-year study, published in 2010, also found significantly lower rearrest rates in the long-term. Another meta-analysis from 2013 found a “small but important” effect on recidivism. Trauma-Informed Care, which emphasizes an awareness and understanding of beneficiaries’ trauma while providing care, is also supported by a growing body of evidence. Research has also repeatedly shown a link between crime and unemployment, and that “strong ties to meaningful employment” can lead to less offending. Lastly, research has shown that social ties to family protect individuals from recidivating.