Recidivism Effects of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) Program Vary by Former Prisoners’ Risk of Reoffending

| Janine Zweig, Jennifer Yahner, Cindy Redcross

The New York City-based Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) is a transitional jobs program designed to help former prisoners increase longer-term employment and, consequently, reduce recidivism. Interim results from MDRC’s rigorous impact evaluation of CEO show reduced recidivism in both the first and the second year of follow-up. This research brief expands on those results by using regression-based analysis to identify whether CEO had its greatest impact among low-, medium-, or high-risk offenders — with risk levels being defined by participants’ characteristics before random assignment that are associated with recidivism after random assignment. CEO had its strongest reductions in recidivism for former prisoners 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 random assignment. If confirmed by other studies, these findings suggest that the limited resources available to transitional jobs programs for former prisoners should be targeted toward the people at highest risk of recidivating, because they are helped most by this intervention.