Additional Resources:

Program Profile: Preventing Parolee Crime Program (PPCP)

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on June 03, 2011

Program Summary

A multidimensional, parole-based reintegration program that aims to reduce parolees’ crime and reincarceration by providing them with services that can facilitate a successful reintegration into society following release from prison. The program is rated Promising. Participants who met treatment goals had the lowest recidivism rates. In general, the longer the parolees stayed in a program, the less likely they were to return to prison.

Program Description

Program Goals

The Preventing Parolee Crime Program (PPCP) is a multidimensional, parole-based reintegration program run by the California Department of Corrections. The program aims to reduce crime and reincarceration of parolees by providing them with services that can facilitate a successful reintegration into society following release from prison. The program, originally called the Preventing Parolee Failure Program, was implemented in response to the record high recidivism rates among California parolees. The program was created to address the many problems that cause a high rate of return to prison among parolees reentering the community, including substance abuse, unemployment, illiteracy, and homelessness.


Services Provided

PPCP consists of six networks of service providers that offer community- and residential-based drug abuse treatment, job training and placement services, math and literacy skill development, and housing. Although the PPCP service networks vary in their specific treatment goals and activities, together they comprise an integrated, statewide program designed to reduce high rates of parolee recidivism and reincarceration.



PPCP includes two community-based employment programs that work to help parolees gain steady, full-time employment. These programs include Jobs Plus (JP) and the Offenders Employment Continuum (OEC). The JP program consists of 12 subcontractors in 9 counties that develop job banks of local employers willing to hire parolees. Providers are paid for their services for each successful job placement. The program also offers a 1- or 2-day employment workshop that focuses on resume writing, interviewing strategies, and proper work attire, although attendance is not mandatory. The OEC consists of 6 subcontractors in 6 counties that provide mandatory 40-hour workshops that focus on improving parolees’ interest and aptitude for work, identifying and fixing barriers to long-term employment, and encouraging entry in vocational training. Providers are paid based on workshop enrollment, regardless of the number of eventual job placements.


Substance Abuse

Two networks of providers offer substance abuse education and recovery services, including the Substance Abuse Treatment and Recovery (STAR) and Parolee Services Network (PSN). STAR provides a 4-week educational program that helps parolees recognize, acknowledge, and prevent substance abuse problems. The program also helps parolees change antisocial attitudes and behaviors (such as habitual lying, stealing, and aggression); improve self-control; and develop problem-solving and conflict resolution skills. The STAR program is held in parole offices statewide and can serve more than 6,500 parolees a year.


PSN provides four primary modalities of substance abuse treatment, including short-term detoxification, long-term (180 days) residential drug treatment, and outpatient services. The fourth modality is sober-living support, which provides up to 90 days of drug- and alcohol-free community-based housing. PSN operates in eight counties across the State and offers a total of 500 treatment slots. Not all treatment sites offer all four treatment modalities.


Math and Literacy Education

The Computerized Literacy Learning Center (CLLC) aims to improve parolees’ mathematic and literacy skills by a minimum of two grade levels. It does this by providing training services through a self-paced, computer-assisted instructional program. Parolees can enter and exit the program at any time. In addition to a traditional curriculum, CLLC also develops custom curricula to assist parolees in obtaining and retaining employment. The CLLC provides more than 200 computer workstations in 19 sites across the State, including parole offices.



PPCP also has a network of six Residential Multi-Service Centers (RMSCs) that provide support to homeless parolees transitioning to independent living in the community through a residential therapeutic environment. In addition to providing a stable residential environment, RMSCs provide employment, math and literacy skill development, substance abuse education, and recovery services, as well as services to help develop communication and problem-solving skills. Employed parolees are required to save a certain percentage of their earnings in order to eventually transition to independent living. Parolees are allowed to reside in an RMSC for 6 months or up to a year with approval from a parole agent. The RMSCs also provide aftercare for 60 to 90 days.  

Evaluation Outcomes

top border

Study 1


The study by Zhang, Roberts and Callanan (2006) found that participants of the Preventing Parolee Crime Program (PPCP), as a whole, had a recidivism rate that was 8 percentage points lower than non–PPCP parolees (44.8 percent versus 52.8 percent, respectively). In addition, increasing levels of participation in PPCP services was associated with an even lower recidivism rate. Only 32.7 percent of PPCP participants met at least one program’s treatment goal, but they had a recidivism rate that was 20.1 percent lower than non–PPCP parolees. Although only 13.8 percent of PPCP participants met more than one treatment goal, they had a recidivism rate that was 47.1 percent below non–PPCP participants.


The study also showed that PPCP participants that failed to achieve any program goals (about 53 percent) were reincarcerated at the same rate as non–PPCP parolees. This suggests that although participation in PPCP is associated with lower rates of recidivism, most of the positive effects were concentrated among parolees who received at least one full dose of services.


The results of the logistic regression confirmed the advantage experienced by PPCP participants. The odds of non–PPCP parolees being reincarcerated within 12 months of parole release were 1.38 times higher than PPCP participants. The odds of reincarceration were 2.46 times higher for non–PPCP parolees when compared to PPCP participants who met one treatment goal. Non–PPCP parolees were 7.87 times more likely to be reincarcerated after 1 year than PPCP participants who met more than one treatment goal.


Individual Program Effects

Program effects were further analyzed by treatment services provided to PPCP participants. Meeting treatment goals was consistently associated with lower recidivism rates, irrespective of service type. After 12 months, participants of Residential Multi-Service Centers who met treatment goals had the lowest reincarceration rate (15.5 percent). The reincarceration rate for participants who met treatment goals at Jobs Plus was 33.1 percent and 28.5 percent at Offenders Employment Continuum. Participants in the Computerized Literacy Learning Center had a prison return rate of 26.5 percent, while Substance Abuse and Treatment Recovery (STAR) program participants had a return rate of 40.4 percent and Parolee Service Network participants had a return rate of 25.7 percent. Participants who met the treatment goals at the STAR program had the least advantage relative to non–PPCP parolees (40.4 percent versus 52.8 percent return rate, respectively).


Level of Participation and Incremental Effects

PPCP participants were grouped into three categories: (1) those who had minimum participation in the program (i.e., early dropouts); (2) those who received substantial services but did not meet treatment goals (i.e., service goal partially achieved); and (3) those who completed the treatment goal (i.e., service goal achieved). On the likelihood of recidivism in the first 12 months of release, a second observation period was included: 12 months from onset of services. The results showed that, in general, the longer the parolees stayed in a program, the less likely they were to return to prison. For each program, early dropouts had the highest rate of return (for both observation periods), followed by those who partially achieved service goal and those who met the treatment goals.

bottom border

Evaluation Methodology

top border

Study 1

Zhang, Roberts, and Callanan (2006) used a quasi-experimental design to look at the effectiveness of the Preventing Parolee Crime Program (PPCP) in reducing recidivism and reincarceration of parolees in California. There were three central research questions:


  • To what extent did the PPCP as a whole reduce recidivism and reincarceration?
  • To what extent did each of the individual programs affect recidivism and reincarceration?
  • To what extent did the duration and quality of a parolee’s participation in the PPCP services affect the likelihood of his or her recidivism and/or reincarceration?

The study population included all California parolees who were released to parole between July 1, 2000, and June 30, 2002. Parolees were excluded if they were “second strikers” (who were the subjects of a separate evaluation) or if they were a specific type of offender, such as sex offenders, who were not eligible for certain PPCP services. The primary unit of analysis was the time spent on active parole (known as “parole spell”) between the parole release date and exit from parole because of reincarceration or absconding, or June 30, 2003, whichever came first. (The June 30 date was selected to ensure at least a 1-year observation period for most parole spells.) This study took an approach more commonly used to look at stratification and social mobility (such as movements in and out of the labor force) because the focus was on parole spells as the unit of analysis, rather than on distinct individuals. This approach was favored because of the pattern of serial short-term incarceration–release cycles and the need to find out whether parole spells that included PPCP services were substantively different in process and outcomes than non–PPCP parole spells.


The treatment group consisted of all parole spells in which the parolee was enrolled in PPCP services (n=28,598). The comparison group consisted of all release spells in which the parolee did not enroll in PPCP services and had not enrolled in services in a prior spell (n=148,343). This approach was favored over the practice of matching treatment group members with comparison group members, because it leveraged all available information for the parolee population and maximized the ability to measure and statistically control for any differences between the two groups on known risk factors for recidivism, such as age, gender, race, number of prior incarcerations, and type of crime committed. The two groups were similar on several factors. PPCP participants were 85.7 percent male, and 36.6 percent African American, 31.2 percent white, 16.5 percent Latino, 12.6 percent Mexican, and 3.1 percent Pacific Asian or “other.” Parolees who did not participate in PPCP were 90.1 percent male, and 27.9 percent African American, 33 percent white, 16 percent Latino, 19.3 percent Mexican, and 3.8 percent Pacific Asian or “other.” Among PPCP participants, rates of participation rates varied significantly by race across services. For example, African Americans enrolled at a higher rate in the Offenders Employment Continuum (OEC) program, while white parolees were more likely to enroll in the Parolee Services Network (PSN).


The outcome measure of interest was recidivism, measured as reincarceration of a parolee within 1 year of his or her release to parole. There were two primary independent variables. The first was participation in PPCP services, which was determined by whether a parolee enrolled in PPCP services during the parole spell. The second was the intensity of participation services. This was measured in two ways: duration of time receiving program services, and whether the parolee met the service provider’s benchmarks for success. The benchmarks varied across programs. For example, the Computerized Literacy Learning Center benchmark was set at improvement in reading and math skills by two grade levels. The Substance Abuse Treatment and Recovery benchmark was completion of the 40-hour education workshop on substance abuse and recovery. The benchmark for the Jobs Plus program was defined as placement in a job, while the benchmark for the OEC program was defined as having completed the workshop and having gained employment. The benchmark for the Residential Multi-Service Centers was a graduated metric for assessing the intensity of treatment based on the number of days actually in residence. Finally, the benchmark for PSN was client specific and focused on whether a client had met a specific treatment goal and the number of treatment goals met.


Data was collected from two primary sources: the Offender-Based Information System and the Statewide Parole Data Base. These databases provided information on the movement of parolees through the California prison and parole system, and also provided some criminal history and background demographics data. Data was also collected from service provider records of parolee participation in the program.


The study used multivariate linear modeling to assess the effects of program participation on recidivism that allowed for control of potential differences in recidivism risk factors between the treatment and comparison group. Estimates of PPCP effects were calculated using logistic regression.

bottom border


top border
Zhang, Roberts, and Callanan (2006b) conducted a statewide cost–benefit analysis of the Preventing Parolee Crime Program (PPCP). Program effectiveness was assessed by comparing program costs to costs of incarceration that were avoided (owing to decreases in recidivism rates after participation in PPCP). The cost–benefit analysis relied on the outcome results from the program evaluation of PPCP (Zhang, Roberts, and Callanan 2006). The results from that study showed that PPCP participants on average remained out of prison during the study period for 446.7 days, compared to 393.1 days among non–PPCP parolees. The study looked at the average 2-year costs. The cost–benefit was found by subtracting the program offsets (i.e., total program expenditures including administration, evaluation, and parole supervision costs) from the gross savings achieved from the days of reincarceration avoided by the PPCP participants compared to non–PPCP participants. The results showed a net savings of more than $21 million from the incarceration days avoided by the PPCP participants. In other words, for each $1 invested in PPCP, the net return was $0.47, after subtracting program expenses and regular parole supervision costs. The cost–benefit evaluation also used a survival analysis approach that could adjust for the effects of censoring certain cases and control for group differences. This approach resulted in an adjusted savings estimate of $26.6 million (versus the estimated $21.1 million).
bottom border

Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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

Study 1
Zhang, Sheldon X., Robert E.L. Roberts, Valerie J. Callanan. 2006. “Preventing Parolees From Returning to Prison Through Community-Based Reintegration.” Crime & Delinquency 52(4):551–71.
bottom border

Additional References

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

Zhang, Sheldon, Robert E.L. Roberts, and Valerie Callanan. 2003. An Evaluation of the California Preventing Parolee Crime Program. San Macros, Calif.: California State University San Marcos.

Zhang, Sheldon X., Robert E.L. Roberts, and Valerie Callanan. 2005. “Multiple Services on a Statewide Scale: The Impact of the California Preventing Parolee Crime Program.” Corrections Compendium 30(6):6–7,30–35.

Zhang, Sheldon X., Robert E.L. Roberts, and Valerie J. Callanan. 2006b. “The Cost Benefits of Providing Community-Based Correctional Services: An Evaluation of a Statewide Parole Program in California.” Journal of Criminal Justice 34(4):341–50.
bottom border

Related Practices

top border
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
bottom border

Program Snapshot

Age: 18+

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, White, Other

Geography: Rural, Suburban, Urban

Setting (Delivery): Inpatient/Outpatient, Residential (group home, shelter care, nonsecure), Other Community Setting

Program Type: Academic Skills Enhancement, Alcohol and Drug Therapy/Treatment, Aftercare/Reentry, Probation/Parole Services, Vocational/Job Training

Targeted Population: Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Offenders, High Risk Offenders

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: National Reentry Resource Center

Sheldon Zhang
Professor and Chair
Department of Sociology, San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego CA 92182-4423
Phone: 619.594.5448
Fax: 619.594.1325