The focus of the experimental evaluation by researchers David Farabee, Sheldon Zhang and Benjamin Wright was to determine whether a nationally recognized employment focused reentry program in southern California was indeed able to reduce the rate of recidivism of former inmates that were participating in its programs. The underlying point that the researchers want to find through this specific research project is whether or not current reentry programs across the nation can accomplish their stated goals. For the researcher, this is important because while more and more inmates are being released there has been little research completed on whether reentry programs are an effective means of helping them avoid re-offending. The main hypothesis of the study is that if you provide reentry services to recently released inmates, they will be able to make use of those service to avoid re-offending altogether or extend, at a minimum, extending the amount of time before they re-offend. In order to test their hypothesis, the researcher focused on interviews of participants in the selected reentry program and participants that could not participate in the program because there were not enough available spaces. Based on their interviews, the researchers found that there was little difference in recidivism, employment and housing stability rates for those former inmates that participated in the program and those that did not. The results suggest that there is much more research needed in determining what can be done to help ex-inmates establish a stable, fruitful, and non-criminal life after a period of incarceration. The researchers’ argument that it is questionable to rely simply on employment as a means of ensuring a more stable life for ex-inmates is persuasive. This is corroborated by the evidence from the experiment itself. As mentioned in the article, rather than rely on employment support, it would probably be more effective for correctional policy to create and promote reentry programs that to combine employment support, housing support and other forms of assistance such as life skills training, and drug treatment. These more comprehensive programs would provide assistance in all facets of an ex-inmate’s release that should help in reducing recidivism.
Farabee, D., Zhang, S.X. & Wright, B. (2014, Feb 28). An experimental evaluation of a nationally recognized employment-focused offender reentry program. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 10, 309-322.