Washington State Institute for Public Policy
Employment & job training assistance in the community
Adult Criminal Justice
Benefit-cost estimates updated December 2016.  Literature review updated May 2015.
Employment and job training programs teach job preparedness and skills that are necessary for the workplace, such as effective job searches, applications, and resumes. Some programs may specifically address barriers to employment for convicted offenders. For this broad grouping of studies, employment and job training assistance was delivered in the community; however a few programs began just prior to an offender's release from incarceration.
The estimates shown are present value, life cycle benefits and costs. All dollars are expressed in the base year chosen for this analysis (2015). The chance the benefits exceed the costs are derived from a Monte Carlo risk analysis. The details on this, as well as the economic discount rates and other relevant parameters are described in our Technical Documentation.
Benefit-Cost Summary Statistics Per Participant
Benefits to:
Taxpayers $2,469 Benefits minus costs $7,977
Participants $0 Benefit to cost ratio $18.17
Others $4,971 Chance the program will produce
Indirect $1,002 benefits greater than the costs 99 %
Total benefits $8,441
Net program cost ($464)
Benefits minus cost $7,977
1In addition to the outcomes measured in the meta-analysis table, WSIPP measures benefits and costs estimated from other outcomes associated with those reported in the evaluation literature. For example, empirical research demonstrates that high school graduation leads to reduced crime. These associated measures provide a more complete picture of the detailed costs and benefits of the program.

2“Others” includes benefits to people other than taxpayers and participants. Depending on the program, it could include reductions in crime victimization, the economic benefits from a more educated workforce, and the benefits from employer-paid health insurance.

3“Indirect benefits” includes estimates of the net changes in the value of a statistical life and net changes in the deadweight costs of taxation.
Detailed Monetary Benefit Estimates Per Participant
Benefits from changes to:1 Benefits to:
Taxpayers Participants Others2 Indirect3 Total
Crime $2,468 $0 $4,969 $1,233 $8,670
Adjustment for deadweight cost of program $1 $0 $2 ($232) ($229)
Totals $2,469 $0 $4,971 $1,002 $8,441
Detailed Annual Cost Estimates Per Participant
Annual cost Year dollars Summary
Program costs $463 2014 Present value of net program costs (in 2015 dollars) ($464)
Comparison costs $0 2014 Cost range (+ or -) 10 %
Estimate provided by the Washington State Department of Corrections, April 2015.
The figures shown are estimates of the costs to implement programs in Washington. The comparison group costs reflect either no treatment or treatment as usual, depending on how effect sizes were calculated in the meta-analysis. The cost range reported above reflects potential variation or uncertainty in the cost estimate; more detail can be found in our Technical Documentation.
Estimated Cumulative Net Benefits Over Time (Non-Discounted Dollars)
The graph above illustrates the estimated cumulative net benefits per-participant for the first fifty years beyond the initial investment in the program. We present these cash flows in non-discounted dollars to simplify the “break-even” point from a budgeting perspective. If the dollars are negative (bars below $0 line), the cumulative benefits do not outweigh the cost of the program up to that point in time. The program breaks even when the dollars reach $0. At this point, the total benefits to participants, taxpayers, and others, are equal to the cost of the program. If the dollars are above $0, the benefits of the program exceed the initial investment.

Meta-analysis is a statistical method to combine the results from separate studies on a program, policy, or topic in order to estimate its effect on an outcome. WSIPP systematically evaluates all credible evaluations we can locate on each topic. The outcomes measured are the types of program impacts that were measured in the research literature (for example, crime or educational attainment). Treatment N represents the total number of individuals or units in the treatment group across the included studies.

An effect size (ES) is a standard metric that summarizes the degree to which a program or policy affects a measured outcome. If the effect size is positive, the outcome increases. If the effect size is negative, the outcome decreases.

Adjusted effect sizes are used to calculate the benefits from our benefit cost model. WSIPP may adjust effect sizes based on methodological characteristics of the study. For example, we may adjust effect sizes when a study has a weak research design or when the program developer is involved in the research. The magnitude of these adjustments varies depending on the topic area.

WSIPP may also adjust the second ES measurement. Research shows the magnitude of some effect sizes decrease over time. For those effect sizes, we estimate outcome-based adjustments which we apply between the first time ES is estimated and the second time ES is estimated. We also report the unadjusted effect size to show the effect sizes before any adjustments have been made. More details about these adjustments can be found in our Technical Documentation.

Meta-Analysis of Program Effects
Outcomes measured Primary or secondary participant No. of effect sizes Treatment N Adjusted effect sizes (ES) and standard errors (SE) used in the benefit-cost analysis Unadjusted effect size (random effects model)
First time ES is estimated Second time ES is estimated
ES SE Age ES SE Age ES p-value
Crime 15 6882 -0.114 0.040 32 -0.114 0.040 42 -0.116 0.004
Employment 2 320 -0.260 0.407 32 -0.260 0.407 42 0.122 0.522
Earnings 2 338 0.246 0.076 31 0.000 0.017 32 0.246 0.001
Citations Used in the Meta-Analysis

Anderson, D.B., & Schumacker, R.E. (1986). Assessment of job training programs. Journal of Offender Counseling, Services, & Rehabilitation, 10(4), 41-49.

Beck, J.L. (1979). An evaluation of federal community treatment centers. Federal Probation, 43, 36-40.

Beck, J.L. (1981). Employment, community treatment center placement, and recidivism : A study of released federal offenders. Federal Probation, 45(4), 3-8.

Berk, R.A., Lenihan, K.J., & Rossi, P.H. (1980). Crime and poverty: Some experimental evidence from ex-offenders. American Sociological Review, 45(5), 766-786.

Cave, G., Bos, H., Doolittle, F., & Toussaint, C. (1993). JOBSTART: Final report on a program for school dropouts. New York: MDRC.

Cook, P.J., Kang, S., Braga, A.A., Ludwig, J., & O’Brien, M.E. (2015). An experimental evaluation of a comprehensive employment-oriented prisoner re-entry program. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 31(3), 355-382.

Duwe, G. (2015). The benefits of keeping idle hands busy: An outcome evaluation of a prisoner reentry employment program. Crime & Delinquency, 61(4), 559-586.

Farabee, D., Zhang, S.X., & Wright, B. (2014). An experimental evaluation of a nationally recognized employment-focused offender reentry program. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 10(3), 309-322.

Mallar, C.D., & Thornton, C.V.D. (1978). Transitional aid for released prisoners: Evidence from the life experiment. The Journal of Human Resources, 13(2), 208-236.

Milkman, R.H. (1985). Employment services for ex-offenders field test--Detailed research results (Document No. NCJ 099807). McLean, VA: The Lazar Institute.

Uggen, C. (2000). Work as a turning point in the life course of criminals: A duration model of age, employment, and recidivism. American Sociological Review, 65(4), 529–546.

Zweig, J., Yahner, J., Redcross, C., The Urban Institute. (2010). Recidivism Effects of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) Program Vary by Former Prisoners' Risk of Reoffending. MDRC.

For more information on the methods
used please see our Technical Documentation.