Workforce GPS: Decreasing Recidivism through Vocational Training and Education Programs

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 68% of prisoners released in 2005 returned to prison within three years of release, and 77% were arrested within five years of release. The Workforce Systems Strategies (WSS) resources below provide data analyses, literature reviews, and other tools through which practitioners, researchers, and stakeholders can improve or create effective programs that support individuals as they transition from prison to the community, such as providing employment services pre-release.

Unlocking Potential: Results of a National Survey of Postsecondary Education in State Prisons. May 2011. This brief describes services to prepare inmates for work upon release from prison. It also discusses the potential effectiveness of postsecondary correctional education (PSCE) in preparing inmates for work, and shares survey results from a 2011 study about PSCE availability, uptake, delivery and funding in prisons in 43 states. Based on the analysis, one of the brief’s key findings is that: “Participating states reported approximately 71,000 persons enrolled in vocational or academic postsecondary education programs in prisons for academic year 2009–10; 6 percent of the incarcerated population in these states.”

Easing Reentry through Employability Skills Training for Incarcerated Youth. 2015. Aimed at both researchers and practitioners, this literature review synthesizes the evidence on the effectiveness of employment skills programs targeting justice-involved youth. The author does not conduct primary research, but rather summarizes findings from studies conducted across the United States in the past 20 years and includes over 50 resources in the bibliography. The resource may help practitioners develop employment skills programs that meet the needs of justice-involved youth and inform future research by highlighting gaps in the current knowledge about such programs. The author organizes findings into programs that target youth before incarceration, during incarceration, and after incarceration.

Prisoner Reentry Toolkit for Faith-Based and Community Organizations. 2008. This toolkit contains a range of resources, templates, and promising practices to support small and mid-size faith-based and community-based organizations that want to develop or grow their reentry programs. Topics covered include: designing an effective program structure, forming successful partnerships, recruiting clients and volunteers, crafting intensive case management, removing barriers to employment through supportive services, implementing effectual employment preparation, succeeding at job placement, mentoring adult ex-prisoners, and monitoring program success.