Helping Criminal Ex-Offenders

Posted by Gary Gonzalez - On July 21, 2015 (EST)

The U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS) has issued Offender Reentry: Correctional Statistics, Reintegration into the Community, and Recidivism, an extremely useful overview for employment and training programs assisting ex-offenders. TO SEE IT, CLICK "DOWNLOAD NOW" ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THIS SCREEN.

WIOA lists ex-offenders as one of the categories of “individuals with a barrier to employment” targeted for assistance. As most inmates are rearrested within 5 years of their release, reintegration assistance — including employment-related help — is essential.

Reintegration assistance seeks to both improve the prospects of ex-offenders and to minimize recidivism. The latest U.S. Bureau of Justice Statutes study found that 76.6 percent of prisoners released were rearrested within 5 years, with the majority (43.4) being rearrested within the first year of release. This suggests the importance of assistance within that first year, to reduce recidivism.

The literature on what works best for ex-offenders is unfortunately sparse, but has been collected in the What Works in Reentry Clearinghouse, with separate sections on employment and education. Few studies meet the level of rigor the Clearinghouse requires, and those for employment and training showed mixed results: the only two projects found to reduce recidivism had no employment impacts, and conversely one project that increased employment didn’t reduce recidivism. Among education projects, postsecondary education had the best impact in reducing recidivism, adult basic education showing results not as positive, vocational education had mixed results, and high school equivalency projects had no recidivism effects.

The report also includes a good overview of Federal ex-offender programs, by Federal Department, plus a detailed summary of the Second Chance Act that funds many of these programs.

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Modified On : July 21, 2015
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