- - Sunday, December 20, 2015


While David Muhlhausen is right to highlight the complicated relationship between employment and recidivism for ex-offenders, his reading of the randomized control trial results from the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) misses the mark (“From jail to jobs: Why aren’t these programs working?” Web, Dec. 14).

Mr. Muhlhausen fails to point out that on several key measures, CEO did have strong public safety effects. Over a full three-year follow-up period, CEO made statistically significant impacts reducing arrest rates, misdemeanor convictions, convictions of violent crimes, incarceration for a new crime, and new admissions to prison and jail. CEO submitted itself to the highest standard of social science research to both demonstrate its impact and learn where improvement to the program could be made.

Does the evaluation show impact on every measure? No, but the research has allowed us to double down on what works best, including refining our recruitment strategy, making significant investment in job retention and creating a new pilot that addresses the root of behavioral issues that can lead to criminal activity.

This approach not only has the power to make communities safer, it also saves money. The researchers at MDRC and the Vera Institute of Justice found that CEO saved up to $3.30 for every taxpayer dollar invested. These results and cost savings led to CEO’s participation in a ground-breaking Pay for Success initiative in New York State, which includes another randomized control trial evaluation. This project is backed by 44 private investors who put $13.5 million into the initiative because CEO has been proven to both reduce recidivism and save taxpayer dollars.


Chief executive officer

Center for Employment Opportunities

New York



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