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Evaluating recidivism and job quality outcomes for participants in the Hoosier Initiative for Reentry Employment (HIRE) program (Northcutt Bohmert et al. 2017)

Absence of conflict of interest.

Citation

Northcutt Bohmert, M., Hood, B. J., & Meckes, J. (2017). Evaluating recidivism and job quality outcomes for participants in the Hoosier Initiative for Reentry Employment (HIRE) program. Corrections: Policy, Practice and Research, 2(2), 110-129.

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the impact of job placement through the Hoosier Initiative for Reentry Employment (HIRE) program on recidivism among people released from Indiana prisons in 2014.
  • The authors used HIRE program data and Indiana Department of Corrections data on the prison population to compare the recidivism outcomes of previously incarcerated people who were placed in a job through HIRE with the outcomes of those who were not placed in a job by the HIRE program. The authors used a statistical model to compare rates of recidivism between these two groups.
  • The study found a statistically significant relationship between the intervention and recidivism. People obtaining a job placement were less likely to be reincarcerated between one to two years after release than nonparticipants who did not use intervention program services. The study also examined employment outcomes but these were not eligible for review.
  • The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not ensure that the groups being compared were similar before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to job placement through HIRE; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Intervention Examined

The Hoosier Initiative for Reentry Employment (HIRE) program

Features of the Intervention

HIRE is an employment program in Indiana for felony offenders provided through the state employment assistance program called WorkOne and funded by the state and federal government. Initially, the program provides employment services over 15 weeks, focusing on soft skills and job readiness skills. HIRE also refers previously incarcerated people to community organizations for additional resources they might require. The program provides job search assistance and job placement. After placement, the program provides about one year of job coaching and other services to improve employment retention. Program records indicate that participants placed in employment in 2014 typically worked in production and manufacturing and earned $9.67 per hour.

Features of the Study

The authors used a statistical model to compare recidivism outcomes of people placed into jobs by HIRE with the outcomes of people who were not placed into jobs by HIRE. The authors used HIRE program data and Indiana Department of Corrections data on all people released from a state prison in 2014. This included 328 people who were placed in a job through the HIRE program (the treatment group) and 17,901 other released prisoners who were not placed in a job through HIRE (the comparison group).

Across both groups, most people were male (85 percent), about 35 years old, and white (68 percent in the comparison group and 76 percent in the treatment group). The average length of prison stay was 27 months for the treatment group and 17 months for the comparison group. Fewer than half the people were high school graduates or had obtained a general education diploma.

Findings

Recidivism

  • The study found a statistically significant relationship between job placement through HIRE and recidivism: HIRE participants who were placed in a job were less likely to be reincarcerated, for any reason or for a technical violation, between one and two years after release than comparison group members who did not use HIRE services. The study did not find a statistically significant relationship between job placement through HIRE and reincarceration for a new offense.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The authors noted statistically significant existing differences between the treatment and comparison groups before the intervention. For example, the authors noted differences in the groups’ average length of incarceration and the types of crimes for which people were convicted. These existing differences between the groups and other potential unobserved differences—and not the HIRE program—could explain the observed differences in outcomes.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not ensure that the groups being compared were similar before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to job placement through HIRE; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Reviewed by CLEAR

December 2019

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