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Results from the Transitional Jobs Reentry Demonstration

Posted on 06/08/2012


MDRC (www) recently released its final report on the Transitional Jobs Reentry Demonstration (TJRD), Returning to Work After Prison (pdf). The report has important implications for policy-makers, researchers and practitioners—as well as for prisoners. Some 700,000 people are released from prison each year. Two-thirds of them are later rearrested and half return to prison within three years. Finding steady work is particularly daunting for them, since former prisoners often have low levels of education and skills and no recent work experience. They are also concentrated in a small number of struggling urban neighborhoods that lack resources to assist the reentry process. Many states have developed prisoner reentry initiatives in recent years. At the federal level, the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative (www), the National Reentry Resource Center (www), and, most recently, the Second Chance Act of 2008 (www) have supported these efforts.

While transitional jobs are seen as promising, little is known about what strategies are effective in helping former prisoners find and hold jobs. The TJRD was designed, with support from the Joyce Foundation, to help fill this gap. TJRD focused on programs providing subsidized temporary jobs, support services, and job placement help. It assessed how such programs affected employment and recidivism during the two years after people entered the study. The findings show that transitional jobs can increase the overall rate of employment for former prisoners after release. These increases in employment, however, were found to be due solely to the transitional jobs themselves, with little evidence that they led to better unsubsidized employment outcomes over a two-year period. Thus, the study concludes, researchers and practitioners should also test other strategies. Future tests could examine extending the period of the transitional job, including through vocational training as a core component or through a greater focus on the transition to regular employment by offering stronger financial incentives for participants.

The Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) encourages adult education practitioners, especially, to read the full report (pdf), for more detail.

From the OVAE Connection (www), newsletter of the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, U. S. Department of Education, May 31, 2012.

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