Absence of conflict of interest.
Bauldry, S., Korom-Djakovic, D., McClanahan, W. S., McMaken, J., & Kotloff, L. J. (2009). Mentoring formerly incarcerated adults: Insights from the Ready4Work reentry initiative. New York, NY: Public Private Ventures.
- The study’s objective was to examine the relationships between the Ready4Work mentoring program and post-release employment and recidivism outcomes among previously incarcerated adults.
- The study uses a nonexperimental design to compare outcomes of Ready4Work participants who did and did not voluntarily participate in mentoring, based on data from states’ public incarceration records and a follow-up questionnaire given to study participants at their program site.
- The study found statistically significant favorable relationships between Ready4Work mentoring and employment and recidivism outcomes.
- The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not account for the fact that study members in the intervention group chose to participate in mentoring and study members in the comparison group chose not to participate in mentoring. This means we are not confident that findings can be attributed to Ready4Work mentoring; other factors are likely to have contributed.
Features of the Intervention
The Ready4Work reentry initiative aims to reduce recidivism and address barriers common to reentry populations related to employment, support, and social networks. Community and faith-based organizations offered the Ready4Work program in Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; Houston, Texas; Jacksonville, Florida; Los Angeles, California; Memphis, Tennessee; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; New York City, New York; Oakland, California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Washington, DC. To receive program services, people must have been ages 18 to 34, incarcerated most recently for a nonviolent felony offense, and out of prison no longer than 90 days. Program participants received case management, employment services, and mentoring for up to one year.
The intervention, mentoring through Ready4Work, is a component of the overall Ready4Work program. Mentoring was available to participants voluntarily during their two-week soft skills training component. Mentoring had the goals of providing ex-prisoners with support and offering positive role models to help them return to their communities and reestablish their lives. Participants received mentoring in group or individual sessions.
Features of the Study
The authors used a nonexperimental study design to compare employment and recidivism outcomes between the treatment group of Ready4Work program participants who received mentoring and a comparison group of participants who did not. A total of 4,450 ex-offenders participated in the Ready4Work program; of those, 2,203 received mentoring and 2,247 did not. Study participants were 26 years old on average. The majority of study participants were male (80 percent), African American (77 percent), and had a general education degree or higher (60 percent). About half of study participants had a history of five or more arrests.
The authors used statistical models to compare Ready4Work employment and recidivism outcomes of the treatment group with those of comparison group members using data from follow-up questionnaires and public incarceration records from the state of each program site. The statistical model included controls for demographic characteristics, level of education, local unemployment rate, incarceration history, and number and duration of full-time jobs.
- Chicago, Illinois
- Detroit, Michigan
- Houston, Texas
- Jacksonville, Florida
- Los Angeles, California
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- New York City, New York
- Oakland, California
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Washington, DC
- There were positive statistically significant relationships between Ready4Work mentoring and employment outcomes. The odds of obtaining employment were about 2.1 times greater for the treatment group than for the comparison group, and the odds of retaining employment for three consecutive months were about 1.6 times greater.
- There was a favorable statistically significant relationship between Ready4Work mentoring and recidivism. The odds of returning to prison with a new sentence within one year of release were about 0.7 times smaller for the treatment group than for the comparison group.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The authors compared the outcomes of participants who voluntarily participated in Ready4Work mentoring with those who chose not to participate in mentoring. Because the intervention participants are people who elected to participate in mentoring, there could be differences between intervention participants and comparison participants that are not accounted for in the analysis. These differences between the groups—and not the Ready4Work mentoring—could explain the observed differences in employment outcomes.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not account for the fact that study members in the intervention group chose to participate in mentoring and study members in the comparison group chose not to participate in mentoring. This means we are not confident that findings can be attributed to Ready4Work mentoring; other factors are likely to have contributed.