Vol. 47, No. 4

In this Edition

The famed screenwriter William Goldman once wrote a book about Hollywood called, Adventures in the Screen Trade. In it, he discussed his career working in the film industry and his experience as the creative force behind such hits as Marathon Man and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He also offered up what remains one […]

The Conservative Proposal to Reform American Health Care

The centuries-old oath taken by health care professionals reads, “Do no harm.” It is time for Washington lawmakers to take a similar approach when working to fix the problems that exist in our health care system.

Getting Smart on Crime

How community workforce development programs are increasing public safety.

Role Models

Amid soaring approval ratings and a vast crossover appeal, these two Governors are reaching out to America’s new electorate and coming away with their support.

Behind Kasich’s Rise

Twenty years after they served together in Congress, a former colleague of John Kasich’s, Tim Penny, looks at his record as Governor and explains why he is not surprised by his success. Similar to President Reagan, “His ambition and passion is to get things done that need doing.”

Growing the Majority: A Q&A with Liesl Hickey

The Executive Director of the National Republican Congressional Committee weighs in with a preview of the 2014 mid-term elections.

Boot the Zombies!

One of the GOP’s top strategists argues that the party will not close its gender gap until it fills its deficit of new ideas.

The Decline of Parties and the Rise of Dysfunction

A veteran election law expert looks at the growing influence of special interest groups, and the impact on parties — and the nation.

May the Best Candidate Win

Can two laws to end gridlock in California serve as a model for nationwide reform? This respected political observer, Dan Schnur, thinks so.

Ripon Profile of Lynn Jenkins

House GOP Conference Vice Chair Lynn Jenkins discusses why more women are needed at the Leadership table.

Getting Smart on Crime

A New Strategy to Promote Safety through Employment

Every year, approximately 650,000 people across the United States leave prisons and reenter their communities. An estimated 40 percent return to prison within three years. Millions more cycle through jail every year. These numbers raise public safety concerns, as well as concerns over the cost to taxpayers. In 2011, the total cost to taxpayers was $38.8 billion on corrections, making corrections, on average, the fourth largest item in state budgets behind health, education, and transportation.

The high rate of recidivism is caused in part by the difficulties of reintegration in the community, such as securing employment. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that the unemployment rate for people with criminal histories is between 25 and 40 percent across the country. Without a job, these people are unable to support themselves and their families or pay taxes, and are more likely to reoffend.

Although employment can play a critical role in reducing recidivism, research shows that simply placing someone in a job does not guarantee successful reentry. Criminal behavior is often the result of several characteristics and circumstances, such as having anti-social attitudes, associations with anti-social peers, poor relationships with family members, and negative perceptions about school or work. Without first addressing these underlying challenges, little can be done to improve an individual’s ability to stay crime-free and keep a job. What is needed is an integrated approach that corrections, reentry, and workforce development systems can use to triage their resources in ways that reduce recidivism and improve employability among their shared populations.

Although employment can play a critical role in reducing recidivism, research shows that simply placing someone in a job does not guarantee successful reentry.

Recognizing this need for an integrated approach, the Council of State Governments Justice Center — with support from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and with guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration — has released Integrated Reentry and Employment Strategies: Reducing Recidivism and Promoting Job Readiness (Integrated Strategies). Integrated Strategies features a new framework that brings together the latest research in reducing recidivism and the best practices in workforce development.

Integrated Strategies helps policymakers, program administrators, and practitioners maximize their investments to improve reentry and employment outcomes for people with criminal histories. The paper offers guidance on how to create effective programs, and recommends using evidence-based assessments of individuals’ risk of reoffending, job readiness, and related needs to ensure an individual is placed in services that are tailored to meet his or her needs. This approach can help decision-makers triage and allocate resources, promoting an efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

Around the country, corrections and workforce development agencies in several jurisdictions — including New York State and Montgomery County, Maryland—are implementing integrated initiatives between corrections and workforce systems to promote employment among adults with criminal records. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Work for Success (WFS) Initiative is a first-of-its-kind statewide effort to improve employment outcomes and reduce recidivism among individuals with criminal histories. This initiative involves a dynamic partnership of the state’s Department of Labor, Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, Division of Criminal Justice Services, the Office of the Deputy of Civil Rights, and leading workforce practitioners in New York. Work for Success will soon launch a coordinated system to match an individual returning to the community to workforce development services according to the individual’s assessments of his or her risk of reoffending, job readiness, and related needs.

What is needed is an integrated approach that corrections, reentry, and workforce development systems can use to triage their resources in ways that reduce recidivism and improve employability among their shared populations.

Montgomery County, Maryland is also incorporating elements of the integrated approach to serve the needs of adults returning to the communities from custody. The Montgomery County Department of Correction and Rehabilitation’s Pre-Release and Reentry Services (PRRS) Division operates a residential work-release facility for individuals who are within 12 months of release. Using information from risk and job-readiness assessments, case managers and staff work with each individual to create a comprehensive, tailored reentry plan. PRRS partners with Montgomery College and the workforce development organization MontgomeryWorks to prepare individuals to obtain and maintain a job, with a focus on helping them to avoid recidivating and remain committed to their long-term career goals.

While many agree that having a job is a key element for successful reintegration back to the community, the corrections and workforce systems will need to collaborate and integrate services to implement effective strategies to reduce recidivism and joblessness. Integrated Strategies is an important step in this direction. By placing the right people in the right services at the right time, corrections and workforce agencies can help ensure their limited dollars have the maximum impact. This is a benefit beyond fiscal responsibility and smart public policy — it is critical to communities and families across the nation.

Henry Rosen and Mai Tran are Program Associates with the Council of State Governments Justice Center.