On Whom does Work Work?: Findings on CEO’s impact on recidivism

On Whom does Work Work?: Findings on CEO’s impact on recidivism

The Urban Institute’s recently published study on The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) impact of recidivism on formerly incarcerated individuals, entitled “Recidivism Effects of CEO Program Vary By Former Prisoner’s Risk of Reoffending,” has some interesting findings for program enrollees, for those of us working on the ground in reentry, and for policy makers.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with CEO, it is one New York’s City most highly regarded transitional employment programs designed to assist formerly incarcerated individuals increase their employability and find long term employment. The program is particularly appealing to many of those in our Reentry Court and Task Force Case Management programs because following a four day training, CEO offers short term job placements with an immediate daily income of around $40.00. A representative from CEO is available every Thursday to our reentry clients to do a face to face intake.

The study, conducted through random assignment, determined that those individuals who are at a “high risk” of recidivism are most likely to benefit from the programming. In the study, “high risk individuals” were defined by age (younger individuals), gender (male), and number of prior arrests (9 or more). The study determined that “for former prisoners in the high-risk subgroup, CEO significantly reduced the probability of rearrest, the probability of reconviction, and the number of rearrests in Year 2 following random assignment”, while “those in the low-risk category who participated in CEO had outcomes that [were] similar to the control group’s.

Interestingly, participation in CEO, an employment program, did not increase one’s likelihood of
obtaining unsubsidized employment.” The obvious conclusion then, is that securing employment is not the factor that positively impacted the high risk participants. It seems likely that the pro-social interaction with program staff and the structured time were responsible for the recidivism outcomes.

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