Criminal and Juvenile Justice

After a four-decade surge in incarceration, the United States – with about 5 percent of the world’s population – now holds more than 20 percent of its prisoners. Policymakers at all levels of government have been implementing reforms that aim to reduce the use of incarceration, save money for taxpayers, and maintain public safety. MDRC has built evidence on a range of these reforms at all points in the justice system, from the pre-trial phase to prisoner reentry.


Final Results from the Evaluation of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) Transitional Jobs Program

Ex-prisoners who had access to CEO’s transitional jobs program were less likely to be convicted of a crime and reincarcerated. The effects were particularly large for those ex-prisoners who enrolled in the program shortly after release. The recidivism reductions mean that the program is cost-effective — generating more in savings than it cost.


An Alternative to Bail

Defendants awaiting trial and unable to post bail are often detained in local jails unnecessarily, disrupting their lives and adding to costs for taxpayers. To address this situation, New York City has launched a program that gives judges the option to release some defendants to community-based supervision. 


Final Results from the Transitional Jobs Reentry Demonstration

Transitional jobs programs in four Midwestern cities substantially increased short-term employment by providing jobs to many ex-prisoners who would not otherwise have worked. However, the gains faded as men left the transitional jobs, and the programs did not increase unsubsidized employment nor did they reduce recidivism.