The Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative Evaluation Final Report
This is the seventh entry in a series addressing whether correctional programs work to reduce recidivism (return to the criminal justice system via arrest, prosecution or incarceration).
The program described below focuses on employment and mentoring and involved the US Department of Labor and other federal agencies.
In late 2005, the U.S. Department of Labor selected 30 organizations to operate Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative (PRI) programs, each one intended to help at least 200 formerly incarcerated individuals find jobs and re-enter their communities annually. The report is the product of several years of research into the operations of these projects; it is also built upon prior research in the criminal justice and workforce fields.
As part of a presidential initiative to reduce recidivism and the societal costs of reincarceration by helping inmates find work when they return to their communities, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Employment and Training Administration (ETA) joined the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and other Federal partners in 2005 to create a demonstration program: the Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative (PRI).
The initiative seeks to strengthen urban communities affected by large volumes of returning prisoners through employment-centered projects that incorporate job training, housing referrals, mentoring, and other comprehensive transitional services. Although it is designed to offer ex-offenders an array of services to meet their diverse needs, this initiative is based on the core premise that helping ex-offenders find and maintain stable and legal employment will reduce recidivism.
The PRI draws upon the strengths and skills of faith-based and community organizations (FBCOs) to provide re-entry assistance to returning ex-offenders. FBCOs are respected in their communities, have experience in providing social services to some of the hardest-to-serve populations, have access to sizable networks of volunteers, and provide enthusiastic support to many of their undertakings.
The 30 projects are located in urban areas in 20 states around the country.
The organizations chosen as grantees were expected to develop relationships with corrections agencies, the publicly-funded workforce investment system, other community organizations, and employers in order to help their projects meet the program goals.
Recidivism rates across all grantees appear low.
Between 70 and 82 percent of participants were reported by grantees to have no criminal justice involvement during the first year after release. Using only data for those participants who had the relevant outcome data, programs reported that 8 percent of participants who reached one year after release were rearrested for a new crime, and 9 percent were reincarcerated for a revocation of parole or probation.
An additional 4 percent had other violations of community supervision requirements and 2 percent were re-arrested and released without further charges.
These rates are substantially lower than national recidivism rates as well as those found in other studies of ex-offenders, however, differences in the populations served and data collection methods make it difficult to determine the reason for this variation.