Bloom, D., Redcross, C., Zweig, J. & Azurdia, G. (2007). Transitional jobs for ex-prisoners: Early impacts from a random assignment evaluation of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) prisoner reentry program. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- The study’s objective was to examine the effect of the Neighborhood Work Project (NWP) sponsored by the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) on the employment outcomes of former prisoners.
- The study was a randomized controlled trial. The authors used administrative data from the program and state data systems to compare the outcomes of former prisoners who had been randomly assigned to the NWP with those of former prisoners who were randomly assigned to a control group that received basic employment services.
- The study found that those assigned to the NWP were more likely than the control group to be employed in all four quarters during the year after the program and were more likely to be employed in the program’s worksite project in the fourth quarter after the program.
- The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is high because it was based on a well-implemented randomized controlled trial. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the CEO NWP’s transitional job services and not to other factors.
The Center for Employment Opportunities’ Neighborhood Work Project (NWP)
Features of the Intervention
The NWP was a comprehensive employment program for former prisoners offered by the CEO in New York City. In an effort to reduce recidivism and improve labor market prospects, the program provided former prisoners with temporary, paid jobs and other employment services, such as a four-day life skills class, job coaching, job development, parenting classes, and post-placement services.
Features of the Study
The study was a randomized controlled trial. To be eligible for the study, former prisoners needed a referral to CEO by their parole officer, had to report to the program, could not have worked in a CEO transitional job in the year before baseline, did not participate in New York State’s Shock Incarceration (or other small special programs), and had signed an informed consent form. Eligible study participants were randomly assigned to either the NWP group or to a control group. The control group had access to a 1.5-day version of the life skills class; a resource room containing computers with job-search software along with telephones, printers, and fax machines; and staff assistance for help with various aspects of searching for jobs. The authors estimated the impacts of NWP by comparing the mean outcomes of the two study groups, accounting for demographic characteristics.
- The study found no statistically significant differences between the groups in employment in the fourth quarter after random assignment.
- However, 21.7 percent of the former prisoners in the NWP program were employed for all four quarters in the year following the program, compared with 10.9 percent of control group members; this difference was statistically significant.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
One of the features of the NWP was a temporary job. The authors reported that some 72 percent of NWP group members worked at a NWP worksite, many for several weeks. Thus, an interpretation of the finding for consecutive quarters of employment must bear in mind that some of the employment experiences captured were in transitional jobs, and not permanent jobs.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is high because it was based on a well-implemented randomized controlled trial. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the Neighborhood Work Project, and not to other factors.