Reentry Success at MINNCOR


Reentry Success at MINNCOR
By Brenda Chandler, Administrative Director, MINNCOR

For the 2010 Reentry Issue of NCIA News, MINNCOR introduced a new reentry program, EMPLOY.  Initially developed in 2006, statistics showing the success of the program were unavailable.  MINNCOR is now ready to share its’ success!

An in-depth evaluation conducted by the Minnesota Department of Corrections’ Research and Evaluation Unit assessed the impact of EMPLOY on recidivism and post-release employment, examining 464 offenders released from Minnesota prisons between 2006 and 2008.

The evaluation shows that participation in EMPLOY significantly decreased the risk of recidivism by up to 63%. The reductions for specific recidivism rates are as follows:

  • 35% reduction in re-arrests
  • 32% reduction in re-convictions
  • 55% reduction for new offense re-incarceration
  • 63% reduction in re-incarcerations for a technical violation revocation

Participation in EMPLOY also significantly increased the chances of securing post-release employment by 72%. EMPLOY participants worked over 400 more hours during the follow-up period (two years) than offenders in the comparison group. Due to the greater number of hours worked, EMPLOY participants earned nearly $5,500 more, on average, than offenders in the comparison group.

Why does the program work?  One reason is the continuity of services and support starting during incarceration and continuing until one year after release.  The EMPLOY staff philosophy focuses on offender accountability.  The participants must do the work – secure interviews, gain employment and earn the right to stay employed – and EMPLOY will provide tools for them to be successful.

Fast Track: A New Partnership Initiative
MINNCOR’s EMPLOY Program, the Department of Corrections Work Release Unit and the Hennepin County Adult Correctional Facility have embarked on an exciting new endeavor called the Fast Track Program. This risk reduction pilot model aims to allow for a more gradual transition back into the community by helping participants obtain sustainable employment upon their transfer to Work Release.

For four months, Fast Track participants are housed at the Hennepin County Adult Correctional Facility located in Plymouth, MN where they work for MINNCOR by day and attend intensive job and life skills training classes taught by EMPLOY staff two nights a week. After the participant has relocated to their county on Work Release status, EMPLOY provides job leads and retention services.  The goal is to expand this program to as many as twenty-five participants over the next several months.

Staff and participants of the new Fast Track initiative

EMPLOY Success Stories
Along with the statistical success of the EMPLOY program, MINNCOR has several individual success stories of EMPLOY participants … here are just a few:

“Leo Jones”
In the Fall 2010 Issue of NCIA News, MINNCOR introduced the EMPLOY Program.  Completely funded by MINNCOR, the program seeks to reduce recidivism by providing individual employment support services to participants.  The article featured “Leo Jones”, who was released from prison in February 2010.  Leo secured not one, but two jobs with the support of EMPLOY staff.  After being in and out of prison numerous times, Leo is still gainfully employed and continues to be successful in the community.

Melissa enrolled in the EMPLOY program when she still had a few years left in her sentence.  She knew she would have very little once she left prison and that she would have to make some major adjustments to acclimate herself to life outside.  Melissa’s initial assumption was that finding employment would be the biggest challenge; however she quickly found work at a thrift store operated by a national non-profit organization. As the model store for other locations to follow, there is a lot of pressure to maintain a certain standard for delivering services.  Melissa loves seeing the end result of everyone’s efforts; staying organized and being well-run is not easy, but it’s definitely rewarding. Homeownership is Melissa’s next big goal; she understands it will take some time and is prepared for the challenge. In the end, Melissa stated that it was comforting to know that EMPLOY would be there to help guide her so she wouldn’t have to go it alone.

“Climbing the Corporate Ladder”
On a recent visit to a local employer who had hired an EMPLOY participant in the past, EMPLOY’s Job Developer discovered that the participant was now the general manager!  The participant found employment shortly after getting released as a laborer, operating various industrial laundry machines.  A few short months afterward, he was promoted to a management position. Now, almost two years later, not only is he still with the company, he is the general managerand oversees all of the operations for the facility. Through his hard work and determination to succeed on the job, he was able to climb the corporate ladder!