In the past decade CEO has partnered with the research firm MDRC to conduct two major external evaluations of its work. More than a Job, published in 2012, is a random assignment study of CEO’s recidivism and employment outcomes. A Successful Prisoner Reentry Program Expands is a fidelity study released in 2016 demonstrating CEO’s ability to replicate its successful outcomes in multiple communities.
Highlights from the studies include:
- CEO significantly reduced recidivism with the largest impacts for the group of participants recently released from prison. This group was significantly less likely than control group members to be arrested, convicted of a crime, or incarcerated. These impacts represent a reduction in recidivism of 16 percent to 22 percent across the three outcomes. MDRC deemed these results rare for rigorous evaluations such as this one.
- CEO’s financial benefits far outweigh its costs. A benefit cost analysis of the evaluation results calculated total benefits of up to $3.85 for every $1.00 spent on the program. The majority of these benefits came in the form of reduced criminal justice expenditures and the value of services that CEO participants provided to government agencies in the transitional job work sites.
- CEO significantly increased employment in the first year of the study. Large employment gains faded after the first year, though employment improvements continued in years 2 and 3 for recently released people.
- In addition to those recently released from prison, CEO’s impacts on employment and recidivism were stronger for those who were more disadvantaged or at higher risk of recidivism.
- The replication programs operated with high fidelity to the original program model.
- Participants in replication programs engaged in CEO activities at similar rates as did participants in New York City, although replication programs did a better job of moving participants through the model’s early stages and into working with the staff to obtain unsubsidized employment.
- Participants said that the program’s most essential and distinctive elements were its structure and the support of its staff members.
- While CEO work crews offered some opportunities for skills training, they functioned primarily as jobs, with the habits and competencies that make for a good employee emphasized through the routine of reporting for work each day, cooperating with colleagues, and following supervisors’ directions.