When a criminal has made the internal decision to transform his life, being able to get a job, any job, will be helpful; but designing programs whose central mission is getting jobs for criminals has not proven to be successful reducing recidivism under rigorous evaluation—random selection, control group, third party evaluator—though the anecdotal evidence, as in this article, is often positive.
“CHICAGO – George Outland had just one requirement when applying for a job: It had to be at a business that didn’t check his criminal background, or didn’t care.
“After Outland served three years in prison for burglary, he could land only short-term work moving furniture or delivering food.
“It’s difficult for ex-felons to find steady jobs even in good economic times, with unemployment rates sometimes as high as 75 percent one year out of prison. During the worst recession in a quarter century, it can be almost impossible….
“Outland began working full time this summer for a property management company through a transitional program run by the Chicago nonprofit Heartland Human Care Services. He’s paid minimum wage of $8 an hour to answer phones, enter data and learn to help manage accounts. He’s making ends meet with just a few dollars left over each month, but at age 50 feels for the first time as if he has a shot at a real career.
“I would love to stay in the real estate field,” Outland said after distributing parking passes to tenants at an apartment building. “I love it now; I actually love it … it makes me feel important.”