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The Effect of Job Readiness Programs on Criminal Behavior

Jones, Michael (2017): The Effect of Job Readiness Programs on Criminal Behavior.

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In this paper, I find that participants in a job-readiness program, Cincinnati Works, in Cincinnati, Ohio are nine percentage points less likely to be charged with a felony compared to non-members. Given that 18 percent of non-members are charged with a felony sometime in the five years after their applications, Cincinnati Works decreases the probability of criminal charges by 50 percent. Moreover, the reduction in crime is driven by those individuals who were not previously felons. Cincinnati Works appears to be more effective at keeping individuals out of the criminal justice system for the first time, compared to reducing the recidivism rate. I find that the taxpayer benefit per Cincinnati Works participant is between $486 and $1,584 a year, depending on whether or not the marginal costs of a prison system include employee compensation. However, because the average cost per participant is $4,669, the program is unlikely to pay for itself based only on a reduction in criminal recidivism.

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