• 0.26,2.00
  • 0.03,1.00
  • 0.05,1.00

The TJRD provided people who were formerly incarcerated with job search and placement assistance and subsidized employment opportunities to help reduce recidivism and increase self-sufficiency among participants.

The TJRD provided former prisoners with job search and placement assistance to help reduce recidivism and increase self-sufficiency among participants.

TJRD participants were provided with 30 to 40 hours of transitional, subsidized employment; job search assistance; and other supports, including job coaching and classes before employment. Case managers acted as the primary point of contact for participants and helped participants access support for transportation, housing, and clothing, as well as referrals to training programs and substance abuse or mental health treatment. Within two weeks of random assignment, participants reported to their transitional jobs, which typically lasted 90 days with the option to extend as slots were available.

Eligible participants were men age 18 or older who had been released from prison within the previous 90 days, were interested in and available for full-time employment, and had not participated in transitional employment within the previous year. Participants in later cohorts in Milwaukee and St. Paul also received bonuses (up to $1,500) for obtaining and retaining unsubsidized employment. The TJRD was implemented in Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; Milwaukee, WI; and St. Paul, MN.

Year evaluation began: 2007
Populations and employment barriers: Male, Former incarceration
Intervention services: Case management, Employment retention services, Financial incentives, Supportive services, Subsidized employment, Transitional jobs, Work readiness activities, Job development/job placement
Setting(s): Urban only

Effectiveness rating and effect by outcome domain

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Outcome domain Term Effectiveness rating Effect in 2018 dollars and percentages Effect in standard deviations Sample size
Increase earnings Short-term Mixed support favorable $523 per year 0.025 1774
Long-term Little evidence to assess support favorable $628 per year 0.030 1774
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase employment Short-term Mixed support favorable 2% (in percentage points) 0.049 1774
Long-term Supported favorable 11% (in percentage points) 0.262 1774
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Decrease benefit receipt Short-term No evidence to assess support
Long-term No evidence to assess support
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase education and training All measurement periods No evidence to assess support

Participant race and ethnicity
Black or African American
81%
White, not Hispanic
10%
Hispanic or Latino of any race
5%
Unknown, not reported, or other
4%

Implementation details

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Dates covered by study

Participants entered the TJRD program on a rolling basis between January 2007 and September 2008, and services typically lasted six to nine months from the point of enrollment. Outcomes were measured for all participants two years after enrollment. The TJRD program had been in operation for one year before data collection started. The TJRD demonstration ended operations in 2009, but the implementing agencies in Chicago, Detroit, and Saint Paul continued to run transitional job programs in some form through at least 2010, when the final follow-up interviews took place.

Organizations implementing intervention

The TJRD was implemented at six organizations in four major Midwestern cities:

  • Chicago. The Safer Foundation implemented the job search assistance program and, through Pivotal Staffing services, implemented the transitional jobs program. Individuals were primarily placed in jobs at a waste management firm that operated recycling plants on contract with the city of Chicago.
  • Detroit. Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit implemented the transitional jobs program. Jewish Vocational Services and the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation implemented the job search assistance program. Individuals were primarily placed in jobs at Goodwill enterprises.
  • Milwaukee. The New Hope Project implemented the transitional jobs program. Project RETURN implemented the job search assistance program. Individuals were placed in job placements at nonprofits throughout Milwaukee.
  • St. Paul. Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota implemented the transitional jobs program. The Amherst H. Wilder Foundation implemented the job search assistance program. Individuals were primarily placed in jobs at Goodwill enterprises.

Populations served

The TJRD served men who had been recently released (within 90 days) from prison with the average participant enrolling in TJRD 44 days after release. Participation in the TJRD was entirely voluntary. The sample consisted primarily of Black men (82 percent) in their mid-thirties with low levels of educational attainment and extensive prior justice system involvement. The average participant had spent a total of six years in state prison, and all participants were under parole at the time they enrolled in the program.

Description of services implemented

Across all four sites, the core feature of the TJRD program was placement in a single transitional job. The types of employment offered varied from site to site, with one site contracting with outside organizations for jobs (Chicago), others identifying jobs within the implementing organizations (Detroit and St. Paul), and one partnering with local community-based partners to develop job placements (Milwaukee). Only members of the intervention group were eligible for subsidized job placement. Job search services were available to all study participants, including members of the comparison group. All sites provided participants in the intervention group with case management services, though intensity and exact activities varied between sites. Lastly, two sites (Milwaukee and St. Paul) offered monetary incentives at predetermined monthly intervals for individuals in the intervention group who obtained unsubsidized employment after their transitional job and had job retention for up to 12 months. The unsubsidized job could be at the same organization as their transitional job or an outside organization. In Saint Paul, participants were offered $1,400 for 6 months of continuous employment, whereas in Milwaukee, participants were offered up to $1,500 for 12 months of continuous employment.

All sites in the TJRD experienced implementation challenges. Recruitment and intake were a common challenge, largely because recently released individuals faced a number of other requirements that competed with their involvement in the program, such as attendance at a high number of mandated programs (such as substance abuse treatment, parole meetings, and anger management courses) and restrictions (such as curfews and travel limitations). All sites experienced staff turnover, and at some sites, critical positions went unfilled for many months. This meant that at some points in time, staff ability to perform all elements of TJRD program services was limited.

Service intensity

Although each TJRD site operated differently, all four sites offered subsidized transitional jobs providing participants with 30 to 40 hours of paid (minimum wage) work each week. These placements lasted 90 days on average, with an opportunity for extension in some cases; however, the TJRD transitional jobs were intended to be temporary, rather than develop into permanent positions. All sites offered job search services and provided support and training in identifying and retaining permanent jobs; the intensity of job search services varied by site and individual.

Comparison conditions

Participants assigned to the comparison condition participated in a job search assistance program, where they had access to computers and other basic supplies. They could also access group-based activities focused on job search activities like developing resumes, discussing former incarceration with potential employers, and other soft skill training. Exact activities and intensity of job search assistance programs for the comparison group varied by site. At all sites, participants in the comparison condition were not eligible for job placement through the TJRD program.

Partnerships

In all sites, the state Department of Corrections and local corrections agencies were active partners. Local corrections agencies and criminal justice partners like halfway houses supported recruitment and referral efforts. Collaboration and partnership with outside organizations for job placement varied from site to site.

Staffing

Staffing for the TJRD program differed from site to site in regard to specialization and number of staff, but all sites at a minimum included case management staff and at least one job developer. The study authors did not include information on the number of staff or their training, degrees, or certifications.

Local context

The TJRD was implemented in four major Midwestern cities: Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, and St. Paul.

Fidelity measures

The study did not discuss any tools to measure fidelity to the intervention model.

Funding source

The TJRD demonstration program and study was funded by the Joyce Foundation, with support from the Justice, Equality, Human dignity and Tolerance Foundation and U.S. Department of Labor.

Cost information

The average cost per participant for delivering TJRD services was about $4,300. This total cost assumes the average length of time in the program (four months) and includes direct expenses, such as transitional job wages and indirect operating costs. The study did not discuss a comparison of costs and benefits.

Studies of this intervention

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Study quality rating Study counts per rating
High High 1