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Program Profile: Ready, Willing, and Able (RWA)

Evidence Rating: No Effects - One study No Effects - One study

Date: This profile was posted on March 13, 2017

Program Summary

This is a transitional employment program that gives those who are newly released from prison the opportunity to work and find housing. RWA seeks to provide clients with work and foundational skills so that they can obtain a job, secure housing, and become financially independent. The program is rated No Effects. RWA had no significant impact on arrests, convictions, and prison sentences after 3 years; however, it did have a significant impact on jail sentences after 3 years.

Program Description

Program Goals
Ready, Willing, and Able (RWA) is a transitional employment program that gives those who are newly released from prison the opportunity to work and find housing. Ultimately, RWA seeks to provide clients with work and foundational skills so they can obtain a job, secure housing, and become financially independent.
 
Target Population/Eligibility
To become eligible for RWA services, clients must qualify for a bed with New York’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS). To do so, they must undergo an interview, a psychiatric and brief medical history assessment, and tuberculosis exam. DHS reserves a certain number of beds specifically for those who have had criminal justice involvement, in addition to beds for those experiencing homelessness with no criminal history. Once a client obtains access to a shelter, the shelter is responsible for the client for a year. DHS will send the client to one of RWA’s two New York facilities (Porter and Harlem). While clients can be referred for RWA services, they can also request to participate in RWA. Once at an RWA location, staff will conduct a drug test and an interview to assess potential participants’ mental stability, health, and desire to participate in the program.
 
Program Components
RWA has two different types of programs that are designed to accommodate people exiting prison: 1) a day transitional employment (RWA-Day) program, which serves both men and women; and 2) a residential program, which only serves men. (However, as the RWA-Day program was temporarily suspended in 2009, the focus of the program description is on the residential program).
 
Upon admittance into the RWA residential program, participants receive a case manager who meets with them twice a month. The case manager creates an individualized service plan for their clients and regularly assesses their success and participation in the program. Participants are also subject to random drug testing twice a week. During the program, participants stay in dormitory-style rooms of 2 to 10 people.
 
The RWA residential program is divided into three parts: the first 30 days, transitional employment, and transitioning to independence:
  • The First 30 days: During the first 30 days of RWA, participants receive a $15 weekly stipend and may not leave the facility unless they have an important reason such as a doctor’s appointment or meeting with a parole officer. Participants perform work within the facility (e.g., building-maintenance tasks) and attend a daily orientation session that covers various aspects of the program. Participants also take an Adult Basic Education test, which assesses their reading and math skills, to determine the services they will need from RWA.
  • Transitional Employment: After the first 30 days of RWA, participants transition to working outside the facility. Most participants are employed by the Community Improvement Project (CIP) to clean city streets. They are paid at an hourly rate ($7.40/hour), which increases after 6 months in the program ($8.15/hour). Case managers help participants learn to budget and save money, while other specialists assist clients in paying off their child support debts (if they are responsible for any). After participating in their field assignment for 3 months, participants have the option to apply for a vocational program in place of the work program. RWA offers a variety of vocational programs that, upon completion, provide participants with certifications that will help them to secure a job after they leave RWA. Participants are also encouraged to participate in educational classes while at RWA so they can obtain their GED and/or learn computer skills.
  • Transitioning to Independence: RWA offers many programs that promote life skills so participants can remain successful once they leave RWA. These programs include a relapse prevention course, a financial management course, and two successive career development courses. After their second career development course, participants begin a paid-job search. Participants record their job search activities on daily tracking sheets.
To graduate from the program, clients must obtain full-time employment and secure housing. Clients typically graduate from the program within 1 year of being admitted. After graduation, The Doe Fund provides graduates with $200/month for 5 months, as long as they maintain full-time employment, independent housing, and sobriety.
 
Program Theory
Although RWA was initially focused on solely helping men experiencing homelessness, it evolved to help those who are leaving prison and re-entering society. The reason for the shift was influenced by the fact that many employers would not hire individuals with a criminal record, especially those who are minorities (Holzer, Raphael, and Stoll 2004; Pager 2003).

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Jail Sentences
Sirois and Western (2010) found a significant between-group difference for jail sentences within 3 years of release. Approximately 17 percent of Ready, Willing, and Able (RWA) participants were sentenced to jail, compared with 26 percent of New York City parolees who did not receive RWA services.
 
Arrests
Although there were significant differences in arrests (favoring the RWA group) after one year, the differences faded over time and no significant differences were found between those who participated in RWA and those who did not, when measuring arrests after 3 years. 
 
Convictions
Although there were significant differences in convictions (favoring the RWA group) after two years, the differences faded over time and no significant differences were found between RWA participants and RWA non-participants for convictions after 3 years. 
 
Prison Sentences
No significant differences were found between RWA participants and RWA non-participants for prison sentences given after 3 years. 
 
Arrested for Misdemeanor
Although there were significant differences in arrests for misdemeanors (favoring the RWA group) after two years, the differences faded over time and no significant differences were found between RWA participants and RWA non-participants for misdemeanor arrests after 3 years.
 
Arrested for Felony
Although there were significant differences in arrests for felonies (favoring the RWA group) after one year, the differences faded over time and no significant differences were found between RWA participants and RWA non-participants for felony arrests after 3 years.
 
Convicted of Misdemeanor
Although there were significant differences in convictions for misdemeanors (favoring the RWA group) after two years, the differences faded over time and no significant differences were found between RWA participants and RWA non-participants for misdemeanor convictions after 3 years.
 
Convicted of Felony
Finally, no significant differences were found between RWA participants and RWA non-participants for felony convictions after 3 years.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
Sirois and Western (2010) used a quasi-experimental design to evaluate the impact of Ready, Willing, and Able (RWA) (both RWA-Day and the residential program) on criminal justice outcomes by comparing RWA participants with New York City parolees who did not participate in RWA. They analyzed prison release data from the New York State Division of Parole (NYSDP), criminal justice data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (NYDCJS), and program participation data from The Doe Fund's management information system (MIS). Specifically, NYSDP provided NYDCJS with the identification numbers and release dates for all individuals released to parole in New York City from January 1, 2004, to September 30, 2009. Only one release date was provided per person. Further, the criminal justice data from NYDCJS contained demographic information (birth, race, ethnicity, and gender), and unsealed arrest, conviction, and sentencing data for all individuals from January 1, 1970, to September 9, 2009. Prison release data provided baseline information, and data were divided into pre- and post-release events. 
 
Propensity score matching was used to create matched comparison groups based on pre-release demographic and criminal justice variables. After matching the comparison groups, no statistical differences were found between the control and comparison groups.  
The RWA group comprised 1,126 participants, whereas the non-RWA control group comprised 1,134 participants. In the full sample, 94 percent of participants were male, with an average age of 39 years. About 76 percent of participants were non-Latino black, 20 percent were Latino, and 4 percent were non-Latino white. Most participants were born in the United States, in New York State. On average, participants were 21 at the age of their first arrest and had 11 arrests. About 65 percent of participants were convicted of a violent crime, 54 percent were convicted of a property crime, and 70 percent were convicted of a drug crime. 
 
Separate regression analyses were conducted to assess the impact of RWA on arrests, convictions, and incarceration sentencing. Outcomes were measured at 3 years following prison release. The regression models controlled for pre-release characteristics, including age, race, gender, birthplace, number of arrests, type of conviction, number of felony vocations, estimated length of last prison stay, and total number of months sentenced to prison.
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Cost

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According to a cost?benefit analysis by Sirois and Western (2010), the total cost of Ready, Willing, and Able (RWA) in 2009 was $28,237,725. The total cost per client (including those who stay in the program for less than a year) was $14,533, with the average client spending about 5.2 months in the program. The 3-year, per-client, social benefit of participation in RWA was $17,608, with benefits calculated based on the program value, reduced crime, and reduced jail incarceration. An independent analysis by Tranfa-Abboud (2012) found that for every dollar spent on RWA, the taxpayer saved $3.60 in criminal justice costs and emergency services.
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Sirois, Catherine, and Bruce Western. 2010. An Evaluation of “Ready, Willing & Able.” New York, N.Y.: The Doe Fund.

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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Holzer, Harry J., Stephen Raphael, and Michael A. Stoll. 2004. “Will Employers Hire Former Offenders?: Employer Preferences, Background Checks, and Their Determinants.” In Mary Pattillo, David Weiman, and Bruce Western (eds.). Imprisoning America: The Social Effects of Mass Incarceration. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 205-43.


Pager, Devah. 2003. “The Mark of a Criminal Record.” American Journal of Sociology 108(5):937-75.


Tranfa-Abboud, Josefina V. 2012. The Value of Investing in The Doe Fund's Ready, Willing & Able Program: A Cost-Benefit Analysis. New York, N.Y.: Marks Paneth & Shron.

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Related Practices

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Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated practices that are related to this program:

Noncustodial Employment Programs for Ex-Offenders
This practice involves job training and career development for offenders with a recent criminal record in order to increase employment and reduce recidivism. These programs take place outside of the traditional custodial correctional setting, after offenders are released. The practice is rated No Effects in reducing criminal behavior for participants in noncustodial employment training programs compared with those who did not participate.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
No Effects - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types
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Program Snapshot

Age: 18+

Gender: Male

Race/Ethnicity: Black, Hispanic, White, Other

Geography: Urban

Setting (Delivery): Residential (group home, shelter care, nonsecure)

Program Type: Academic Skills Enhancement, Aftercare/Reentry, Shelter Care, Vocational/Job Training, Wraparound/Case Management, Alcohol and Drug Prevention

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: National Reentry Resource Center