Between July 2000 and June 2002, the California Department of Corrections (CDC) released approximately 250,000 inmates (125,000 per year), 54.7% of whom were re-incarcerated within 12 months of release for parole violations. At an average of $43 a day to maintain an inmate, parolee re-incarceration was, and still is, an expensive contributor to the corrections crisis throughout the United States. In order to cut costs and simultaneously see positive results with parolees in transition, it was crucial to implement a program that would reduce the recidivism rate.
The CDC consulted with The Pacific Institute to design a custom education solution, and in only two years, through the implementation of The Pacific Institute’s Employment Continuum™ program, CDC experienced a significant decrease in parolee re-incarceration (see Exhibit 1).
The Pacific Institute’s Employment Continuum educational program was one of six programs within the California Department of Corrections’ Preventing Parolee Crime Program (PPCP). PPCP, as a larger entity, consisted of service components including: residential multi-service centers, literacy labs, substance-abuse education, drug-treatment networks, employment readiness, and job placement assistance.The goal of The Pacific Institute’s Employment Continuum program, more specifically, is to break the cycle of repetitive criminal behavior and continuous incarceration through job focus and personal development. Applied cognitive education, job-focused application, employment services, and the successful integration of acquired skills in the workforce are the core components.
From July 2000 to June 2003, 9,245 parolees, all of whom were referred by the CDC, received The Pacific Institute’s education using the Employment Continuum program. Initially, all parolees undertook a job-readiness evaluation. They then received the full 40-hour workshop required of all participants, which they attended 20 hours per week for two weeks. To successfully complete the EC program, parolees needed to prepare a resume, complete a job application, and perform a mock interview. Following the completion of these requirements, parolees were to meet with their parole officer and/or employment specialist a minimum of two times per month until they found work.
An evaluation of the PPCP by California State University at San Marcos* found that of the parolees admitted into the Employment Continuum™ educational program, 30.5% of whom were classified as violent offenders, had recidivism rates of only 39%, as opposed to the statewide rate of 54.7%. Outcomes showed that of program participants who completed the workshop and obtained employment, 28.5% were re-incarcerated within one year of release – a milestone compared to the statewide rate of 54.7%. Significantly, only 28.5% were, a milestone compared to the statewide rate of 54.7%.Investing in The Pacific Institute’s Employment Continuum educational program also resulted in formidable economic benefit. Exhibit 2 (Cost/Benefits Estimates) evaluates all PPCP programs (EC program being one of them) from a Return on Investment stance. The number of lock-up days saved per parolee averaged 125.83, which translated into an approximate net saving of $107.7 million. For every dollar spent, CDC received a Return on Investment of 288%. These figures do not take into account the total savings in local law enforcement, the judicial system, and the potential victims of parolee crime. Research does indicate The Pacific Institute’s Employment Continuum educational program lowered recidivism rates more than any other intervention service in the PPCP. The Pacific Institute offers the Employment Continuum employment focused educational program to all correctional organizations, and it is customizable to the needs of each client.