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The SCA Adult Demonstration Program aimed to reduce recidivism among adults who were recently incarcerated and were assessed as being at medium or high risk of recidivism. The program provided reentry services, including case management, education and training, employment assistance, treatment for substance use disorder, and mental health services.

The SCA Adult Demonstration Program aimed to reduce recidivism among adults who were recently incarcerated and were assessed as being at medium or high risk of recidivism. The program provided reentry services, including case management, education and training, employment assistance, treatment for substance use disorder, and mental health services.

The SCA Adult Demonstration Program provided a range of reentry services to adults who were recently incarcerated. Although the provision of services varied by location, all participants received individualized case management. Employment services were offered in all but one program location and included job-search and placement assistance; mentoring; and training that developed résumé writing, interviewing, and soft skills. Many locations offered participants cognitive behavioral therapy, treatment for substance use disorders, housing assistance, prosocial behavior training, and other mental health services. The duration of the intervention varied, with 62 percent of all participants receiving services for more than 6 months and 25 percent of all participants receiving services for more than 1 year. The SCA Adult Demonstration served adults who were incarcerated or had been incarcerated in the past 10 years and were classified as being at medium or high risk of recidivism. This intervention was implemented by state and local authorities in seven locations: Kentucky; Oklahoma; South Dakota; Allegheny County, PA; Marion County, OR; San Francisco, CA; and San Mateo County, CA.

Year evaluation began: 2011
Populations and employment barriers: Former incarceration, Justice system involvement
Intervention services: Case management, Education, Substance use disorder treatment and mental health services, Supportive services, Training, Soft skills training, Work readiness activities, Job search assistance
Setting(s): Tested in multiple settings

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 Little evidence to assess support favorable $1,025 per year 0.049 956
Long-term Supported favorable $6,233 per year 0.298 754
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase employment Short-term Little evidence to assess support favorable 0% (in percentage points) 0.006 957
Long-term Little evidence to assess support favorable 3% (in percentage points) 0.063 755
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
32%
White
51%
Hispanic or Latino of any race
10%
Asian
1%
American Indian or Alaska Native
14%
Pacific Islander
2%

Implementation details

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Dates covered by study

Participants were randomly assigned to the SCA Adult Demonstration Program from December 2011 to March 2013. The study included a two-year follow-up period.

Organizations implementing intervention

A mix of state and local agencies implemented the SCA Adult Demonstration Program projects.

The state agencies were as follows:

  • Kentucky Department of Corrections

  • Oklahoma Department of Corrections

  • South Dakota Department of Corrections

The local agencies were as follows:

  • Allegheny County (Pennsylvania) Department of Human Services

  • Marion County (Oregon) Sheriff’s Office

  • San Francisco (California) Department of Public Health

  • San Mateo County (California) Division of Health and Recovery Services

Populations served

To be eligible for the SCA Adult Demonstration Program, participants had to meet the following criteria:

  • Be 18 years of age or older

  • Be convicted as an adult

  • Be currently or recently imprisoned in a state, local, or tribal prison or jail

  • Be classified as at medium or high risk of recidivism

The recidivism risk threshold was a requirement for project participation, and sites used various assessments to determine risk classification. Beyond these four eligibility criteria, each site determined the population it would serve, considering demographics like gender, age, or the community to which the individual was returning. In addition, although some programs enrolled people six months or more before their expected release dates, others enrolled them closer to the date of release, and others enrolled them after the they were released.

Of the full study sample, 79 percent were male. About half were White (51 percent); one-third were Black or African American (32 percent); 14 percent were American Indian or Alaska Native; and about 10 percent were Hispanic or Latino of any race. One-quarter of the study sample did not have a high school diploma or GED. About half of the sample was employed at the time of most recent incarceration.

Description of services implemented

The SCA, signed into law in 2008, was a bipartisan effort by U.S. Congress to improve reentry success for people returning from jails and prisons. The SCA Adult Demonstration program was one of the grant programs the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance awarded through the SCA. The project sites in the SCA demonstration expanded their existing reentry efforts to increase coordination between pre-release and post-release services.

Case management was the central feature of all but one (Marion County) of the SCA Adult Demonstration Program sites. Case managers helped participants develop service plans to identify post-release service needs and activities to help them transition into their communities. Most participants’ service plans focused on substance abuse treatment, housing assistance, employment services, or mental health services. To help implement the service plans, case managers coordinated with SCA project staff, jail or prison staff, probation and parole officers, and external project partners. Case managers also tried to find and re-engage participants that were unresponsive to program communication post-release.

These were the main types of services case managers helped participants identify and engage with:

  • Education services, such as GED preparation, adult basic education, and community college classes

  • Employment assistance, including job search and placement, soft-skills training, development of interview skills, and résumé help

  • Substance use treatment, including inpatient and outpatient treatment

  • Mental health services, including mental health screenings and subsidized medication

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy, such as psychotherapy

  • Prosocial services, such as stress and anger management support, peer support, and family and parenting classes

  • Supportive services, including housing placement services and vouchers for food, transportation, and other needs

Instead of focusing on customized case management, Marion County’s program was a full-time, post-release 12-week course that included vocational rehabilitation, cognitive behavioral therapy, substance abuse treatment, family reunification, prosocial skills, and financial planning.

The study authors indicated that the general service model envisioned by the Bureau of Justice Assistance was not consistent across sites. Some sites had stronger care coordination from incarceration to release. In addition, sites often relied on informal, unfunded referrals to service providers in the community, so case managers were unable to track whether participants received the referred services.

Service intensity

Case managers across sites met with participants about once a week, depending on participants’ stability and service needs.

The intended length of service delivery was often limited to 12 months but varied from program to program, ranging from 3 months (Marion County) to 18 months (Oklahoma). The project in San Francisco continued to serve participants until they completed the terms of their parole. Across all sites, 38 percent of program group participants participated in SCA for up to 6 months, 37 percent participated between 6 months and 1 year, and 25 percent participated for more than 1 year.

Comparison conditions

Participants in the comparison group could access regular services and programming offered by the jails and prisons, including SCA-funded enhancements to reentry services for the general inmate population. However, they could not access the customized case management services provided by SCA.

Partnerships

The SCA Adult Demonstration projects heavily relied on formal and informal partnerships to deliver services. These partnerships were with community-based organizations and public agencies, including public assistance programs, alcohol and drug treatment programs, and education providers. In formal partnerships, the grantee and service provider executed a contract or memorandum of understanding in which the grantee would pay for services provided (or the provider offered in-kind support) and SCA participants might receive priority access over the general public. In informal partnerships, SCA program staff referred participants to services, but there were no specific terms of agreement.

Most of the SCA projects had formal partnership agreements with two to five organizations.

Staffing

Each site had two to eight case managers. Some grantees hired case managers from nonprofits or government agencies. In four sites, specially trained probation or parole officers (POs) provided case management in addition to their supervisory duties. These SCA POs had smaller caseloads than regular POs (a maximum caseload of 60 compared with 100 or more) to account for their dual roles. POs who adopted case management duties completed training on managing change, using assessments, and supporting instead of simply monitoring participants.

Most case managers, whether POs or externally hired, had prior experience working with people who had been incarcerated.

The study did not include information on staff degrees or certifications.

Local context

The evaluation focused on seven programs that were among the first to receive funding through the Adult Demonstration Program grant. The project sites operated by local agencies served people living in urban or suburban areas. These agencies were located in Alleghany County, PA, whose county seat is Pittsburgh; Marion County, OR, whose county seat is Salem, a college town; San Francisco, CA; and San Mateo County, CA, which is also located in the San Francisco Bay area.

The project sites operated by the state agencies served urban areas. The Kentucky Department of Corrections (DOC) project served people released to the Louisville metro area, the Oklahoma DOC project served people released to the Oklahoma City area, and the South Dakota DOC project served people released to Sioux Falls or Rapid City.

Fidelity measures

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

Funding source

SCA Adult Demonstration Program grantees received funding from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance.

While grantees received this funding, they were required to match 100 percent of their grant using state or local government funds, partner organization contributions, or other public and foundation funds. Some partner programs offered in-kind contributions that contributed to this match requirement.

Cost information

On average, it cost $9,020 to serve an SCA program participant, which was $2,826 more than the cost to serve an individual in the comparison group. This calculation includes all costs associated with providing case management and all other program services to participants. Study authors used the average per-person costs across all seven sites to calculate the cost per participant.

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
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