Former Prisoners

People who have spent time in prison often have difficulties finding work and establishing independent lives after their release. MDRC is testing the effectiveness of programs to help former prisoners overcome barriers to employment and reduce their chances of rearrest.

The Latest
Report

Subsidized jobs programs seek to increase employment and earnings among individuals who have not been able to find jobs on their own. This report presents the perspectives of participants of 11 such programs. Although there were successes, the majority could not translate their experiences into unsubsidized work.

Issue Focus

In this article originally published in Policy & Practice magazine, MDRC’s Dan Bloom and Cindy Redcross offer lessons from successful collaborations to improve employment and other outcomes for reentering prisoners and noncustodial parents.

Key Documents
Report

What Have We Learned, What Are We Learning, and Where Should We Go from Here?

Each year, the more than 600,000 people released from prison face numerous obstacles to successful reentry into society, starting with the challenge of finding stable work. What does existing research say about the effectiveness of work-focused programs for ex-prisoners?

Report

CEO, a transitional jobs program for former prisoners in New York City, had its strongest effects for participants who were at highest risk of recidivism, for whom CEO reduced the probability of rearrest, the number of rearrests, and the probability of reconviction two years after entering the program.

Brief

The 700,000 incarcerated prisoners released each year face considerable obstacles to successfully reintegrating into their communities, and many return to prison. While state and federal agencies have mounted ambitious prisoner reentry initiatives, this policy memo from our “Looking Forward” series explains that there is still much to learn about what works.