A study of a re-entry program for youth offenders shows reduced recidivism and improved educational outcomes as well as a substantial cost-benefit ratio for taxpayers and other investors. Graduates of the YouthBuild Offender Project at 30 sites had a recidivism rate of 28.3 percent, which is 8.4 to 11.4 percent lower than other similar groups of offenders to whom they were compared. About 46 percent of participants earn their GEDs or high school diplomas within 2 ½ years – more than twice the national average for high school dropouts.
The study found that every dollar spent on each YouthBuild ex-offender participant yields at least $10.80 and up to $42.90 in benefits to taxpayers and others who invest in the program. The study was conducted by Mark A. Cohen of Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management, and Alex Piquero, a criminology professor at the University of Maryland, College Park. The project was funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and managed by YouthBuild USA, a national non-profit organization. In the programs, low-income young people, ages 16-24, work toward their general equivalency degrees (GED) or high school diplomas, while they learn job skills and serve their communities by building affordable housing.