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Program Profile: Transitional Jobs Reentry Demonstration (TJRD)

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

Date: This profile was posted on March 13, 2017

Program Summary

The program is designed to improve behavioral and performance job skills, provide services and support, and help find job placements for participants leaving prison. The program is rated No Effects. The results showed that participation in transitional job services led to increased employment early in the follow-up period, but as participants went from transitional jobs to regular jobs, the employment increase faded. There was no significant impact on recidivism over the 2-year follow up.

This program’s rating is based on evidence that includes at least one high-quality randomized controlled trial.

Program Description

Program Goals
The Transitional Jobs Reentry Demonstration (TJRD) program provides temporary paid jobs, support services (such as case management), and job placement to help participants who are leaving prison. The program is designed to improve behavioral and performance job skills and increase the likelihood of gainful employment by providing ancillary services and supports as well as job-placement assistance for participants. The TJRD provides participants with work experience through temporary, subsidized jobs (i.e., job wages are subsidized by the program). The goal is to successfully transition prisoners from temporary, subsidized jobs to gainful, full-time unsubsidized employment. Gainful, legitimate employment, in turn, should reduce recidivism and the odds that program participants engage in illegitimate employment.
Target Population/Eligibility
The program targets male prisoners who are 18 years and older, and are within 6 months of release from prison. Participants must be willing to work full time to address the successful transition from prison to the community through gainful, legitimate work.
Program Components
The program participants are provided temporary, minimum-wage jobs that offer 30 to 40 hours of paid work each week. They are provided opportunities to address behavior or performance issues that could come up from worksites and hinder future employment. In addition to providing temporary work and helping to find permanent employment, the TJRD focuses on improving participants’ “soft” skills in a hands-on environment. Workplace problems such as tardiness or difficulty taking direction (which could lead to dismissal from a regular job) are identified and addressed by program staff. The goal is to improve the soft skills that many full-time employers value in workers.
TJRD also offers a range of ancillary services and supports that assist participants while they look for permanent, nonsubsidized employment. Additional services offered to TJRD participants include pre-employment classes, job coaching, and post-placement services.
Program Theory
The theoretical foundation of the program is based on the idea that full-time and gainful employment is critical to the successful transition from prison back into the community. Employment is believed to be important to successful reintegration into the community following release from prison for several reasons: first, because social bonds are formed with coworkers; and secondly, because there is a reduction in the amount of time an individual can spend associating with antisocial peers (Weiman et al 2007; Valentine and Redcross 2015). Prisoners returning to the community are often at a disadvantage for finding gainful employment because of discrimination from potential employers, a lack of wanted job skills, and a lack of social ties that could help them find job opportunities. Most reentry programs include services that help former prisoners find jobs, but there have been few that focus on helping participants both find jobs and obtain the skills to keep a job. The TJRD focuses on job-placement assistance as well as improving “soft” skills that can help participants keep a regular, full-time job (Jacobs 2012).

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Jacobs (2012) found that the Transitional Jobs Reentry Demonstration (TJRD) program had no significant effect on any measures of recidivism at any of the sites over the 2-year follow-up period.
The TJRD increased employment early in the study period, due to the transitional job employment of participants. However, the gains were lost over time and there were no significant effects on employment at any of the TJRD sites at the 2-year follow-up period.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
Jacobs (2012) conducted a randomized controlled trial to examine the effects of the Transitional Jobs Reentry Demonstration (TJRD) program on male inmates returning to an urban community after release from prison. There are four sites that were examined in this study: Chicago, Ill.; Detroit, Mich.; Milwaukee, Wisc.; and St. Paul, Minn. The TJRD study target population included 1,813 men who were 18 years or older and who had been released from prison within 90 days before starting the program. The study took place from January 2007 through September 2008. All types of criminal histories were accepted into the program with no project-wide restriction on the number or type of previous offenses.  Additionally, eligible participants had to be willing to work full time and could not have been in a transitional job within the last year.
The 912 treatment group participants were provided temporary, minimum-wage jobs that offered 30 to 40 hours of paid work each week. Additionally, the treatment group was offered pre-employment classes, job coaching, job search assistance, job placement, post-employment services, and interventions to identify and address behavior and performance issues that emerged at the work sites. The 901 comparison group members were referred to job search programs and offered basic job search and placement assistance, but were not offered transitional employment. The race/ethnicity breakdown of the treatment group was 82.3 percent black, 9.8 percent white, 4.0 percent Hispanic, and 3.8 percent other race/ethnicity. The race/ethnicity breakdown of the comparison group 79.0 percent black, 10.6 percent white, 5.4 percent Hispanic, and 5.4 percent other race/ethnicity. The treatment and comparison groups did not significantly differ on demographic characteristics at the baseline.
The primary outcomes of interest were recidivism and employment.  Recidivism was defined as rearrest, reconviction, and prison reincarceration. Employment was defined as ever worked in any employment, ever worked in a transitional job, and ever worked in unsubsidized employment. For this review, the primary outcome of interest was ever worked in an unsubsidized job. Data was collected from state databases on employment and recidivism after two years of entrance into the transitional employment program. Impact estimates were used to determine the differences across groups.
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There is no cost information available for this program.
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Other Information (Including Subgroup Findings)

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In year 2, as the transitional employment intervention group moved out of transitional jobs, the rates of unemployment became similar. Even though Chicago (treatment = 189; comparison = 185), Detroit, and St. Paul did not produce significant, positive impacts in year 2, Milwaukee’s transitional jobs intervention group (treatment = 256; comparison = 250) earned about $1,200 more than the comparison group. As there was no significant difference between the sites, there was no strong evidence as to whether the individual job sites had an impact on unsubsidized earnings between the transitional jobs intervention and the control groups (Jacobs 2012). A subgroup intersite analysis was also done at the St. Paul site, which offered retention bonuses of up to $1,400. This subgroup analysis performed on the transitional job intervention group used random assignment for the first 11 months (January 2007 to November 2007) for released prisoners who did not have the retention bonus and for those from December 2007 to May 2008 who were exposed to the retention bonuses. The year 1 and year 2 findings indicated that the bonuses had promising effects, but the magnitude of those effects decreased over time (Jacobs 2012).
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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
Jacobs, Erin. 2012. Returning to Work After Prison: Final Results for the Transitional Jobs Reentry Demonstration. New York, N.Y.: MDRC.
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Additional References

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

Smith, Whitney. 2010. Transitional Jobs Reentry Demonstration: Testing Strategies to Help Former Prisoners Find and Keep Jobs and Stay Out of Prison. Chicago, Ill.: Joyce Foundation.

Valentine, Erin Jacobs, and Redcross, Cindy. 2015. “Transitional Jobs After Release from Prison: Effects on Employment and Recidivism.” IZA Journal of Labor Policy 4(16).

Weiman, D. M. Stoll, and S. Bushway. 2007. “The Regime of Mass Incarceration: A Labor Market Perspective.” In S. Bushway, M. Stoll, and D. Weiman (eds.). Barriers to Reentry? The Labor Market for Released Prisoners in Post-Industrial America. New York, N.Y.: Russell Sage.

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Related Practices

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Following are 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

Adult Reentry Programs
This practice involves correctional programs that focus on the transition of individuals from prison into the community. Reentry programs involve treatment or services that have been initiated while the individual is in custody and a follow-up component after the individual is released. The practice is rated Promising for reducing recidivism.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Promising - 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): Correctional, Workplace

Program Type: Aftercare/Reentry, Vocational/Job Training, Wraparound/Case Management

Targeted Population: Prisoners

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: National Reentry Resource Center