Redcross, C., Bloom, D., Azurdia, G., Zweig, J., and Pindus, N. (2009). Transitional jobs for ex-prisoners: Implementation, two-year impacts, and costs 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 impact of a comprehensive employment program on ex-offenders’ employment and wages.
- The authors randomly assigned former prisoners to an employment program offering transitional job placement and other services or to a control condition providing a more limited set of services. Employment and earnings data were collected quarterly for three years and compared between the two groups, controlling for characteristics before random assignment.
- The study did not find any statistically significant effects on employment in the sixth or eighth quarters after random assignment, nor on earnings in the sixth quarter or second year after random assignment.
- 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 would be confident that any estimated effects would be attributable to the employment program and not to other factors. However, the study did not find statistically significant effects.
The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) Transitional Jobs Program
Features of the Intervention
The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) provided a comprehensive employment program for former prisoners. To reduce recidivism and improve labor market prospects, CEO provided former prisoners with temporary paid jobs working for New York City agencies and other services. Specifically, CEO’s services included a pre-employment class, a transitional job, job coaching, job development, a parenting class, and post-placement services. People placed into jobs worked in crews of about six participants in city and state agencies throughout New York City. Former prisoners were eligible to participate in the program if they had not worked in a CEO transitional job in the year before baseline; had not participated in New York State’s Shock Incarceration (or other small, special programs); and signed an informed consent form.
Features of the Study
From January 2004 to October 2005, 977 ex-offenders were randomly assigned to either the CEO program or a control group, members of which received an abbreviated pre-employment class and access to job search resources. The authors compared raw mean differences between the treatment and control groups’ quarterly employment and earnings outcomes during the two years after random assignment, adjusting for baseline characteristics of sample members. Employment data came from New York State Unemployment Insurance wage records and earnings data came from the National Directory of New Hires database.
- The study did not find any statistically significant findings on employment in the sixth or eighth quarters after random assignment, nor on earnings in the sixth quarter or second year after random assignment.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
This profile was developed in collaboration with the Employment Strategies for Low-Income Adults Evidence Review, which focused its review on the outcomes measured in quarters 6 and 8 after random assignment. Another study on this intervention focused on annual outcomes and found that people assigned to CEO were 24.5 percentage points more likely to be employed during the first year after random assignment than people assigned to the control condition.
Earnings data were unavailable during the first year of the study.
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 would be confident that any estimated effects would be attributable to the employment program and not to other factors. However, the study did not find statistically significant effects.