Even if programs helping ex-prisoners find jobs may not directly reduce recidivism, they may help identify individuals who are on the path toward quitting a life of crime, says a new study in the journal Criminology & Public Policy. From a review of research, Shawn Bushway of the University of Albany-SUNY and Robert Apel of Rutgers University found that the majority of those exiting prison recidivate within three years and that employment programs have demonstrated limited potential to improve job prospects and cut the risk of recidivism.
A minority of those leaving prison do desist from crime, and evidence suggests that the process occurs quickly and as a result of decisions made by offenders to change their lives. Bushway and Apel argue that employers and correctional administrators can use the completion of a prison employment program as a signal that the individual is ready to desist from crime. In an essay in the same issue, criminologist Edward Latessa of the University of Cincinnati says that although many studies find that employment programs do not reduce recidivism, they can be potentially important catalysts for ex-inmates’ quitting crime. The journal is available to members of the American Society of Criminology or for individual purchases. Journalists who want access should message Ted Gest, firstname.lastname@example.org.