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Successful Job Placement for Ex-Offenders: The Center for Employment Opportunities

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 1998
19 pages
Publication Series
Many offenders have difficulty finding permanent, unsubsidized, well-paid employment after release because they lack job-seeking experience, a work history, and occupational skills, and many employers refuse to hire individuals with criminal records; these circumstances seriously affect the stability of ex-offenders because unemployment is consistently associated with high recidivism rates.
Recognizing many newly released offenders face difficulty reintegrating into society, the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) in New York City helps ex-offenders prepare for, find, and keep jobs. CEO's program is unique because it provides day labor for participants, most of whom have been released only the previous week from boot camp. In addition to enabling participants to earn a daily income, work crews help participants structure their lives and develop good work habits. Work crews also generate revenue that covers direct day labor expenses and represent a short-term means of achieving CEO's overall mission--placing ex-offenders in permanent, unsubsidized, full-time jobs that provide benefits and compensation above minimum wage. Distinctive features of CEO include the following: (1) a set of consistently enforced rules builds on and sustains self-discipline and self-esteem; (2) the program acts as a free human resources department to employers by screening participants for suitability and by serving as an employee assistance program; (3) the program pays for half of employee wages for 8 weeks or more through the Federal Job Training Partnership Act if specific criteria are met; and (4) program employment specialists help employers obtain available job tax credits. About 70 percent of participants find full-time employment within 2 to 3 months. About 75 percent of participants placed are still employed at the same job after 1 month, and half are still working at that job after 6 months. The progression of CEO participants through the program is described and illustrated, and significant features of CEO's staffing arrangements are highlighted. 3 notes, 2 exhibits, and 4 photographs

Date Published: March 1, 1998