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Justice and public safety strategies to improve employment outcomes

Justice strategies can improve employment outcomes by providing individuals with educational, skill building, and work readiness programs while they are incarcerated and helping them quickly find employment once they are released.

Individuals who are employed soon after returning from prison are less likely to recidivate and are better able to support their families.

How does employment affect economic mobility?

Steady, high-quality employment reduces the likelihood of material hardship and improves outcomes for children. 1

Lack of income stemming from unstable employment can make it more difficult for parents to afford food, utilities, health care, and developmental opportunities for their children.

Employment that pays a living wage, provides benefits, and provides employees with consistent, predictable scheduling helps produce economic stability for individuals and families. 2 3

At least one-third of households with a working adult experience material hardships, like being unable to afford enough to eat, stable housing, or medical care.

Low-wage jobs with unpredictable schedules negatively impact adult mental health and family well-being. 4

The economic insecurity, parental stress, and disrupted family routines that result from low-quality employment decrease child well-being.

Categories of successful interventions

  • Mentoring, counseling, and case management: Clinical and social supports that seek to address trauma, improve mental health, and increase general well-being
  • Re-entry programs: Programs that help individuals returning from prison find housing, employment, and other support services
  • Transitional jobs: Paid, temporary employment designed for individuals who have disconnected from school or work. Often include restorative justice programs, counseling, wraparound services, skill building, and GED services

Evidence-based interventions

Intervention Type Category Evidence Level ARP Eligibility
Adult reentry programs Strategy
  • Re-entry programs
Strong (second-highest tier) No
Adult vocational training Strategy
  • Job placement services
  • Sector-based skills training
Proven (highest tier) No
Center for Employment Opportunities Program
  • Re-entry programs
  • Transitional jobs
Proven (highest tier) No
Cognitive behavioral therapy for offenders Strategy
  • Mentoring, counseling, and case management
Strong (second-highest tier) No
Corrections-based adult basic and secondary education Strategy
  • Ged/hsed programs
  • Re-entry programs
Strong (second-highest tier) No
Goodwill Good Transitions Program Program
  • Transitional jobs
Promising (Third-highest tier) No
Goodwill Industries Program
  • Transitional jobs
Promising (Third-highest tier) No
Mentoring programs for delinquency Strategy
  • Mentoring, counseling, and case management
Proven (highest tier) No
Multisystemic therapy for juvenile offenders Strategy
  • Mentoring, counseling, and case management
Proven (highest tier) No
Rapid Employment and Development Initiative (READI) Program
  • Mentoring, counseling, and case management
  • Restorative justice programs
  • Transitional jobs
  • Work readiness training
Promising (Third-highest tier) No
Roca Program
  • Mentoring, counseling, and case management
  • Restorative justice programs
  • Transitional jobs
  • Work readiness training
Promising (Third-highest tier) No
Transitional Jobs Strategy
  • Transitional jobs
Proven (highest tier) No
Treatment for serious juvenile offenders Strategy
  • Mentoring, counseling, and case management
Proven (highest tier) No
Footnotes
  1. Sandstrom and Huerta, "The Negative Effects of Instability on Child Development: A Research Synthesis," Urban Institute 2013
    https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/32706/412899-The-Negative-Effects-of-Instability-on-Child-Development-A-Research-Synthesis.PDF
  2. Schneider and Harknett, It's About Time: How Work Schedule Instability Matters for Workers, Families, and Racial Inequality, The Shift Project, 2019
    https://shift.hks.harvard.edu/its-about-time-how-work-schedule-instability-matters-for-workers-families-and-racial-inequality/
  3. Sawhill and Karpilow, Raising the Minimum Wage and Redesigning the EITC, Brookings 2014
    https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/30-Raising-Minimum-Wage-Redesigning-EITC-sawhill.pdf
  4. Schneider, Harknett, and Collins Consequences of Routine Work Schedule Instability for Worker Health and Wellbeing, The Shift Project, 2019
    https://shift.hks.harvard.edu/consequences-of-routine-work-schedule-instability-for-worker-health-and-wellbeing/