Chapter Six


by Shawn Bushway and Peter Reuter


Employment and crime have a complex relationship. For an individual, they can be substitutes or complements. For example, some people choose crime rather than legitimate work because of an expectation that they can make more money from crime and/or because they find it more rewarding in other ways (Katz, 1989; Bourgois, 1995). On the other hand, the workplace can offer opportunities for certain kinds of crimes that are more difficult to commit elsewhere, such as theft of inventory or selling of gambling services.

The relationship between employment and crime at the community level the relationship is equally ambiguous. Crime in a community is the outcome of the intersection between the propensity to commit a crime and the opportunity to commit a crime. For example, in a given community over time, high employment may be associated with reduced presence of residents and greater wealth, thus increasing criminal opportunities. On the other hand, low employment also provides better legitimate work opportunities for potential offenders, thus reducing their propensity to commit crime. Looking across communities, one can see the same potentially countervailing influences; poor communities offer weak job prospects but also (except for drug markets) financially unrewarding criminal opportunities. At this level, crime rates may depend not on the level of employment but on a much more fundamental set of social and individual characteristics.

Pure theory is not likely then to provide guidance about the strength or direction of the relationship between employment and crime. However it is at least plausible that a strong negative relationship exists. At the descriptive level, those who commit crimes tend to be out of the labor force or unemployed. The communities in which crime, particularly violent crime, is so heavily concentrated show persistently high jobless rates. Increasing employment and the potential for employment for individuals and communities currently at high risk of persistent joblessness may have a substantial preventive effect on crime. Thus a comprehensive assessment of crime prevention programs should include those aimed at increasing employment.

Our review includes any program which aims to increase the employment of individuals or populations at risk of serious criminal involvement. We exclude general economic stimulus policies, (e.g., looser monetary policy aimed at lowering interest rates) though these may in theory reduce crime; such policies are driven by other factors and in any case the evidence on the aggregate relationship between employment and crime is very ambiguous. We include, however, a range of community and individual programs which do not specifically target crime, as indicated by the frequent omission of crime, or even risk-factors for crime, as an outcome measure. Thus much of this review assesses just how well such job-training and creation programs, distinct from those aimed at criminal-justice-involved offenders, actually do at increasing employment for the targeted community or individual. The crime consequences are inferred from our review of the relationship between employment and crime at various levels.

For policy purposes the reciprocal relationship of crime and employment presents a major challenge. Areas of high crime are unattractive for investment. Both property and personnel are at risk; goods are stolen, premises damaged, employees assaulted and customers intimidated. Attracting capital requires a reduction in crime so as to allay the legitimate concerns of investors/employers. On the other hand, crime reduction on a large scale may require the creation of employment opportunities for the large numbers of young adults that are the source of so much of the crime in the area. At the same time, many offenders lack the skills needed to obtain and retain attractive jobs, that is positions that pay enough to avoid poverty (well above the minimum wage for a two-parent, two-child household with only one wage earner) and which offer potential progress and a sense of accomplishment. Thus improving their work force skills may be essential even when capital can be attracted into the community.

Existing programs aimed at reducing crime through employment and/or increasing employment in high crime areas fall into the following two main categories:

Section II briefly surveys the theoretical and empirical literature on the relationship between crime and employment at various levels. Sections III and IV survey supply and demand side programs. Each examines the evaluation evidence on program outcomes: For only a very few evaluations do we have explicit findings on the crime consequences of the intervention; the rest providing only employment measures. Section V then offers an integration of all these findings and Section VI offers conclusions and recommendations.


The relationship between crime and employment has been a long standing issue in research, involving a range of paradigms.1 Fagan (1995) and Freeman (1995) provide recent reviews, particularly focused on understanding how the returns from crime and legitimate work jointly affect the decision to engage in crime. We propose here to give more attention to the multiplicity of relationships between the criminal participation and work opportunities that operate at different levels (individual and community) and at different points in an individual's life-span (school, young adult, adult). Our goal is not to make theoretical contributions but to give a better grounding to an analysis of programmatic and policy options.

Theoretical Perspective

Fagan (1995) and Uggen (1994) have identified four major theoretical explanations for the link between employment and crime: economic choice, social control, strain, and labeling theory.

Economic choice theory (Ehrlich, 1973) posits that an individual makes choices between legal and illegal work based partly on the relative attractiveness of the two options. Moral values still influence actions but are assumed not to change with economic factors. It is, like economic theory generally, about response to changes or differences. If legal work becomes less rewarding or if illegal work becomes more rewarding, individuals may shift to crime and away from legal work. Education plays a role in framing choices; low educational attainment, which now puts young males at risk of frequent periods of unemployment and of achieving only low paying and unsatisfactory jobs, will be associated with high crime participation. This is exactly what Freeman claims happened in the late 1980's: "Given the well-documented growth of [legitimate] earnings inequality and fall in the job opportunities for less-skilled young men in this period, and the increased criminal opportunities due to the growth of demand for drugs, the economist finds appealing the notion that the increased propensity for crime is a rational response to increased job market incentives to commit crime." (Freeman, 1995:177-178.)

Notice that within this theory, the crimes in question are income-generating crimes which are used to replace income gained from legitimate means. The theory offers no account of non-income generating crime. Much violent crime is expressive (e.g., an enactment of drunken anger) rather than instrumental (e.g., aimed at ensuring success of a robbery). However economic theory is not entirely silent on violent crime. Employment should raise the opportunity cost of incarceration (i.e. what the individual loses with his freedom), both through loss of earnings and the loss of work experience; this might deter acts that endanger the individual's freedom.

The economic choice framework allows individuals to engage in both legitimate work and crime simultaneously; this is appropriate as most offenders also maintain some relationship to the workplace over their criminal careers (Reuter et al., 1990). What may be affected by changes in the relative attractiveness of crime and legitimate work is the allocation of time between the two types of income generating activities; better employment opportunities reduce the fraction of time going to crime. Importantly, this theory has further implications beyond a simple contemporaneous choice of legal versus illegal work. The individual, particularly in adolescent years, also has to decide how much to invest in human capital (education and other workforce relevant skills). If the legal labor market opportunities appear weak, a youth is less likely to make adequate investment in acquiring the human capital necessary for success in the legal labor market. As a result, this theory can explain both participation in income-generating crime and under-investment in human capital which reduces legitimate income later.

Control theory claims that employment exerts social control over an individual (Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1990). The absence of employment for an individual leads to a breakdown of positive social bonds for that individual. That in turn is hypothesized to induce the individual to increase his criminal activity, both violent and income related. This theory, expanded naturally to cover not just individuals but areas, is a key part of William Julius Wilson's analysis of inner city problems. Using a series of carefully constructed studies of poverty areas in Chicago, he claims "many of today's problems in the inner-city ghetto neighborhoods - crime, family dissolution, welfare, low levels of social organization and so on are fundamentally a consequence of a disappearance of work" (Wilson, 1996: xiii). Employment is seen as the main builder of pro-social bonds and institutions in a community and its absence results in large scale disorder.

Anomie is another more aggregate level theory (see Uggen [1994] for a concise summary targeted to this issue). This theory suggests that frustration caused by income inequality and other aggregate level problems will cause individuals to resort to crime out of frustration.

One small area of theory that explicitly includes the idea that crime itself could be criminogenic is labeling theory (Lemert, 1951). Individuals who participate in crime acquire stigmatic labels (both to others and to themselves) and are then denied opportunities because of these labels. What is intriguing about this theory is that it suggests the very real possibility of feedback between employment and crime. This feedback suggests that cessation from crime will be difficult once criminal activity has been initiated, particularly if the offender acquires an official record (see Schwartz and Skolnick [1964], Nagin and Waldfogel [1994, 1995], Bushway [1996]).

Labeling theory points also to a community level connection between crime and employment- joblessness in an area may be caused by past criminal activity of the residents, as well as the converse. In a sense the community or area is "labeled", which makes it difficult for the community to attract investment. This is a point first made forcefully by former NIJ Director James K. Stewart (1986).

These theories, potentially complementary, point to important potential feedback between crime and unemployment. Programs aimed solely at improving an individual's employability (motivated by economic choice) or solely at increasing the number of jobs in an area (motivated by all four theories) are vulnerable, the first to the failure of program graduates to find jobs and the second simply to the difficulty of achieving the goal of providing jobs. In the extreme case, a community including many individuals with low human capital, limited ties to positive social structures and institutions, and negative labels is likely to be characterized by both high crime and low employment, with complex interaction between the two problems. Theory suggests that areas characterized by both high crime and low employment require attention to all three factors: weak social institutions, low human capital and negative labels.

Research on Crime and Employment

We now review empirical research aimed at assessing the relationship between crime and employment,2 a necessary bridge between the theories and the program evaluations. This research has been conducted at many different levels of aggregation, including national time-series data, state and local cross-sectional data and individual-level data.

National level. A review by Chiricos (1986) finds that most national level analyses have yielded weak results on the crime-employment relationship. Freeman (1994) claims that this is primarily because of the weakness in the time-series statistical model with national data. One exception is a paper by Cook and Zarkin (1985). They report mixed results from an analysis of business cycles from 1933 to 1982. In general, crime has increased over the last 50 years. However, homicide rates did not vary systematically with the business cycle while the rate of increase in burglary and robbery has been higher during the economic downturns than during the upturns. This is consistent with the idea that low employment leads to an increased propensity to commit property crime while violent crime is driven by other factors. At the same time, they found that auto-theft was actually pro-cyclical--- auto-theft increased faster when the economy improved and more slowly when the economy declined. This is consistent with the idea that the opportunity for auto-theft increases when employment (and hence disposable income) increases. We shall present no other findings at this level of aggregation because it seems to provide least insight into those policy issues with which we are particularly concerned.

Community Level Chiricos does find, however, that at lower levels of aggregation (states, counties and cities) roughly half of all reported studies show a positive and statistically significant relationship between employment and crime, using post-1970 data.3 The fraction of positive results increases to almost 75 percent of all studies when property crimes are analyzed separately from violent crimes.

Individual level Analyses of individual level data have attracted more attention as these data have become available. Studies of the 1945 Philadelphia birth cohort have shown that unemployment is associated with crime (e.g., Wolfgang, Figlio, Sellin, 1972), a finding that is reported in numerous other studies. However the causality is uncertain. Sampson and Laub (1993) argue that employment per se or by itself does not reduce crime or increase social control; it is only stability, commitment and responsibility that may be associated with getting a job that has crime reducing consequences. Gottfredson and Hirschi (1990) argue that the relationship is essentially spurious, reflection of a common third factor which they call the level of individual social control.

Economic choice theory is further supported by evidence showing that human capital influences earnings, and earnings influence recidivism by ex-offenders (Needels, 1996). Social control theory seems to have relevance, too, within the context of economic choice. Farrington et al. (1986) tie crime more directly to employment by examining the timing of crime and employment over almost 3 years for a sample of teenage males in England. They show that property crimes are committed more frequently during periods of joblessness. However, this relationship held only for those who were predisposed to crime (as reflected by self-reports on earlier criminal activity and moral values); otherwise spells of joblessness did not induce more criminal offending.

This brief review establishes that researchers have measured a relationship between crime and employment, and that a number of mechanisms, operating both at the individual and community level, may explain the relationship. The key remaining question is whether or not programs aimed at increasing employment for at-risk populations can attain that goal and reduce crime.


Job Training and Education

The earliest labor market-oriented crime prevention programs followed just this logic -- providing legitimate employment or employment skills to at-risk individuals would reduce their criminal participation. Numerous programs were developed to provide basic education, vocational training and work experience for youth in high crime and high unemployment communities. The federal government spends large sums ($2.5 billion in 19944) on skills-developing programs aimed at increasing the employment prospects of individuals who are at high risk of being persistently unemployed. Most of these interventions target youth, particularly adolescents, on the reasonable assumption that early interventions have higher pay-off if successful. The other large set of interventions targets those already involved with the criminal justice system, since they are also known to have low human capital.

We will consider these two groups of interventions separately, since the division corresponds to differences in institutions and outcome measures. The programs for youth generally are provided by social service agencies while those for offenders frequently occur in correctional settings. Moreover criminal justice program evaluations almost always include recidivism as an outcome measure, and sometimes do not include employment, while the general population programs always include employment as an outcome measure but rarely crime. Programs are further divided into those aimed at youth, broadly defined, and those aimed at adults; these have different theoretical justifications and programmatic content.

Job Training Programs Connected to the Criminal Justice System


Targeting human capital development programs at offenders while in, or just leaving, the criminal justice system has the merit of focusing resources on the highest risk group. It is a human services equivalent of Willie Sutton's famous line about the banks; in this case, we are going where the crime is. Like Sutton's strategy, it also has an obvious weakness; just as banks are well guarded, so offenders in the criminal justice system have already developed behavior patterns that are difficult to reverse with educational programs.

We divide programs by age of the target population: juvenile and adult. That reflects the fact that juveniles seem most suitable for programs that focus on the development of human capital, as is true of education generally; adult programs give more emphasis on reintegration into the workforce. We will also distinguish programs by whether they are in prison or post-release.

Juvenile Offenders5

Young offenders are confined in institutions which generally give more emphasis to rehabilitation than do adult correctional facilities. Education and training programs frequently fit into a broad array of habilitation and rehabilitation services generally. Indeed, it is difficult to identify the main effects of these programs alone, precisely because they are imbedded into a bigger set (e.g., cognitive therapy, substance abuse treatment) which may interact with education and training.

Generally the findings are of negligible or modest effects; see Table 6-1. All evaluations point to a problem getting participants to complete the program once started; high drop out rates indicate either that the program was poorly implemented or it was unattractive to many of the participants. Some of the programs also involved a very low level of services for the clients; even if they were well done it would seem implausible that they could have large behavioral consequences.


Criminal Justice System Programs

Studies         Scientific Method       Description of Intervention and Findings                                     
                (Number of  cases                                                                                    


Greenwood &               5             PCYC offers a comprehensive array of intervention services and activities    
Turner 1993,                            including counseling, peer support and skills training.  One year follow-up  
Paint Creek             (73/75)         data showed no significant differences in arrests or self-reported           
Youth Center                            delinquency between experimental and control groups.                         

Lattimore, et              5            VDS involved the use of vocational skills training, job readiness, and       
al. 1990,                               employment skills training.  36% of the experimental group, compared to 46%  
Vocational             (154/130)        of the control group, were re-arrested following release (statistically      
Delivery                                significant p<.10).                                                          

Leiber &                  3             Rehabilitative strategy that uses social skills training, pre-employment     
Mawhorr 1995,                           training, and job placement opportunities (4 months).  Youths who received   
Second Chance           (57/56)         the treatment intervention are as likely to be involved in official          
program                                 offending as are the equivalent matched comparison (37% compared to 29%).    

Piliavin &                5             Low-skilled and low-wage rate jobs provided for participants for no longer   
Masters 1981,                           than 12-18 months.  Found little effect on delinquents' post-program         
Supported Work  (2200 ex-offenders1400  employment or on their criminal activity after program participation; for    
                ex-addicts 1200 youth)  adult offenders and drug addicts, especially those over 35, increased        
                                        employment and reduced crime effects were found.                             


Adams, et al.               3            Participation in academic and vocational programs bore no relation to       
1994, PERP                               reincarceration; the % of inmates who were returned to prison did not vary  
                       (5608/ 8001)      significantly across groups of program and non-program inmates.             

Berk, et al.                5            Intervention included the eligibility for unemployment benefits at several  
1980, TARP                               levels of the alternative of job counseling.  Membership in any of the      
                        (775/200)        three experimental groups eligible for payments of job counseling had no    
                                         statistically significant impact on either property or non-property         

1976, Baltimore             5            Treatment groups received either income maintenance(3 months), job          
LIFE                                     placement or both.  Financial aid treatment groups were re-arrested for     
                        (216/ 216)       property crimes 8.3% less (statistically significant) than control and job  
                                         assistance groups; they were re-arrested 7% less for other crimes (not      
                                         statis.  sign.)                                                             

Finn &                      3            Findings suggest that ex-offender status had no effect on employment at     
Willoughby 1996,                         termination or follow-up; only the barrier of being long-term unemployed    
 JTPA                   (521/734)        negatively influenced prospect of employment.                               

Hartmann, et al.            3            Treatment included employment skills classes, job club peer support, life   
 1994,  KPEP                             skills and GED training.  Offenders who successfully completed the program  
                          (156)          were significantly less likely to recidivate than those who did not         
                                         (felony arrest p<.004; any arrest p<.005).                                  

Henry 1988, CADD            3            Provided inmates with job training and skills along with substance abuse    
                                         counseling.  No difference found between industry working inmates and       
                         (34/56)         non-industry inmates with regard to the proportion of disciplinary reports  
                                         per month in prison.                                                        

Home Builders               1            Involves an 8 week pre-apprenticeship carpentry training program for        
1996,  TRADE                             incarcerated adult offenders.  Well over half of  program graduates were    
                          (219)          placed in related jobs in 4 out of the 5 sites; 3 month.  recidivism        
                                         results (7.3%) are consistent or better than those of other vocational      

Maguire, et al.             3            Intervention involved participation in prison industry for at least 6       
1988,  PIRP                              continuous months.  After controlling for differences between the two       
                        (399/497)        groups, the recidivism rates for industry and non-industry participants     
                                         were virtually identical.                                                   

Menon, et al.               3            RIO provides services such as educational and vocational training           
1992, Project                            pre-release and job search and placement assistance post -release.  It      
RIO                  (Evaluation not     also uses vouchers from the Targeted Jobs Tax Credit program and federal    
                          clear)         bonding as special incentives for prospective employers.  Positive and      
                                         significant impact on employment and negative and significant impact on     
                                         recidivism, particularly  for the high risk offenders.                      

Piliavin &                  5            Strong positive effect of program participation on ex-offender employment   
Gartner 1981,                            declines over time until the experimental-control differential in hrs.      
Supported Work         (1117/1194)       worked per month has disappeared (1 yr); no recidivism impact.              

Saylor & Gaes               3            Treatment group had either worked in prison industry, or had received       
1996,  PREP                              in-prison vocational instruction.  Long-term findings (8 yrs.) show that    
                       (over 7000)       male prison industry subgroup had 20% longer survival times (time before    
                                         committing new offense) than comparison group; training program subgroup    
                                         had 28% longer survival times: both results are statistically significant.  

Spencer 1980,               4            Treatment involved career counseling, job placement, and special            
Ex-Offender                              counseling services.  Ex-offenders enrolled in the Clearinghouse program    
Clearinghouse           (478/478)        were significantly more likely to obtain employment and/or constructive     
                                         activity than those not enrolled.                                           

Van Stelle 1995,            4            Provides in-prison training, as well as post-release transition services    
STEP                                     such as job placement assistance.  There were no significant differences    
                         (89/42)         between graduates and controls with regard to arrest after release.         

Vera Institute              4            Offers counseling and vocational opportunities such as job training or      
1972,                                    academic placement for a period of 90 days in lieu of tradition court       
Manhattan Court                          disposition.  During the initial 23 months of operation, the re-arrest      
Employment                               rate for the successfully dismissed group was about 50% less than that of   
Project                  (214/91)        the terminated or control groups (p<.01).  No reported results for entire   
                                         treatment group vs. control.                                                

Baker and Sadd              5            Offers counseling and vocational opportunities such as job training or      
1981,                                    academic placement for a period of 120 days in lieu of traditional court    
Court Employment                         disposition.  There was no difference in recidivism between the treatment   
Project                                  and control groups initially, after 12 months or after 23 months.           

For example, Lattimore, Witte and Baker (1990) report a randomized control trial, one of the few in the literature, for 18-22 year old offenders in two North Carolina prisons. We classify this as a juvenile population because the subjects are indeed early in their post-school careers but note that they have been serving time in adult correctional facilities. 295 inmates were enrolled in a Vocational Delivery System (VDS) aimed at identifying vocational interests and aptitudes, providing appropriate training for the individual and then helping with post-release employment. Subjects were picked from all inmates in the two institutions who were aged 18-22, committed for property offenses, had IQ no less than 70, were in good health and within 8 to 36 months of an in-state release. Data were available for 154 of the experimental and 130 of the controls at approximately the two-year mark.6

No employment results were reported; thus the impact of the program on workplace performance must be inferred from the impact on crime. But " (t)hose participating in the program were more likely than control group members to complete vocational training and other programs. . . . VDS participants were less likely to be arrested following release from prison." (p.117) At 24 months the control group showed a 50 percent recidivism rate (based on arrest records) compared to 40 percent for the experimental group. The difference was only weakly significant (10 percent level) and barely that for tests on other outcome measures. This relatively large effect exists even though only 18% of the people assigned to the VDS program actually completed the program. The completers (i.e. those who received all the services included in VDS) were substantially less likely to be arrested. This combination of high dropout and excellent results for completers is typical of other programs that strive to challenge enrollees. The problem is that researchers do not know whether or not the program completers are the same people who would have succeeded in the absence of the program - therefore looking only at the program graduates leads to selection bias. On the positive side, this study provides evidence that vocational programs aimed at young property offenders could have positive outcomes if implementation and participation problems could be resolved.

Piliavin and Masters (1981) report similar weak findings for youth enrolled in the "Supported Work" program, using a randomized assignment of 861 youth (average age 18) in five sites. The program lasted 12-18 months and provided work experience along with a stipend in a sheltered work environment. Although this program was not officially run through the criminal justice system, we include it in this section because two thirds of the youth had an arrest before entry into the program and 28 percent had been incarcerated, for an average of 20 weeks; they were predominantly Black (78%) and Hispanic (16%).

Both employment and official criminal justice outcomes were reported. The labor market outcome differences were non-significant and small; e.g., at 36 months the experimental group worked 83.3 hours per month, compared to 75.8 for the control group. The crime differences were weakly significant (10 percent level). At 27 months, 30 percent of the experimental group had been arrested, compared to 39 percent of the control group; the difference was larger and had greater statistical significance for those without prior arrest. Although this effect size is relatively large (a 30% difference between controls and experimentals more than 2 years after the program ended), the evaluators concluded that there was no evidence of an effect for youth. As in the VDS case, the evaluators point to failure of most participants to complete the program as one of the sources of error in the study.

Other programs tended to have fewer resources, and the evaluations have weaker designs. Leiber and Mawhorr (1995) used a variety of matched control groups to assess the impact of the Second Chance program on youth who were in court but not yet sentenced to an institution. Second Chance involves 16 weekly group meetings aimed at developing certain social skills, along with a pre-employment training program (including how to conduct an independent job search, interview for a job and demonstrate good work habits). With 85 program entrants (only 57 of whom completed it), the test does not have much statistical power. The findings were of no significant differences in official arrests; the control group actually showed lower recidivism than the experimental group (completers or drop-outs). Again the evaluation pointed to the lack of treatment integrity. Note that this program also involved more than just training and education.

A recent OJJDP review of correctional educational programs noted the lack of rigorous evaluation of juvenile vocational education programs within the criminal justice system (OJJDP, 1994).7 The one "rigorous" evaluation cited by OJJDP is the New Pride program in Denver. New Pride is a community-based program that provides a year of intensive non-residential treatment and training, including participation in an on-site business run by the program. The evaluation consisted of tracking the success of the program participants without any comparison group. This is a poor evaluation design that does not meet minimal standards (less than a "1" on our scale). Widespread replication of this program, while encouraged by its evaluators (James and Granville [1984]), does not appear to be justified by the quality of the evaluation.

Adult Offenders

Though both theory and political rhetoric emphasize juveniles as the most suitable targets for training and education, a large fraction of adult offenders in the criminal justice system have poor educational and job market records. That fact was the original source of interest in the early 1960's in assessing whether recidivism might be reduced by providing these adults with additional educational and job skills. Moreover the life course model of crime suggests that many offenders may be more receptive to work than adolescents.

Secondary reviews from the early 1970's, after these programs had been around for roughly 10 years, were uniformly negative. The Department of Labor's Manpower Administration sponsored research on these programs, and provided a comprehensive review of the research in 1973 (Rovner-Pieczenik, 1973). Despite strong commitment and great enthusiasm by program operators, the study reluctantly reports that very few programs led to a substantial decline in recidivism. By way of explanation, the report highlights problems in persuading correctional institutions to focus on education and post-release objectives. The report also highlights the great educational deficits of the offenders, who are generally high school dropouts reading several years below grade level with no discernible job skills. The author concluded "that we entertain no fantasies about the degree of change which manpower projects for the offender can help to bring about. Some offenders will remain unemployed and unemployable no matter what programs are available." (Rovner-Pieczenik, 1973:77)

These disappointing conclusions were communicated to a much broader audience with Martinson's (1974) widely read review of 231 rehabilitative (including employment-based) programs. Martinson concluded that "with few and isolated exceptions the rehabilitative efforts that have been reported so far have had no appreciable effect on recidivism" (p.25). This report has often been held responsible for the decline of the rehabilitative model in corrections (see the chapter on Corrections in this volume) and has limited the research done on these programs.

The sheer numbers of offenders, however, have led correctional officials to continue their efforts to curtail recidivism by reintegrating ex-offenders into the workforce. We found only one recent secondary review of adult offender prison educational programs (Gerber and Fritsch 1993), which (unsurprisingly) is explicitly oriented at rebutting the pessimism of Martinson. Most of the evaluations reviewed compare program enrollees with a matched comparison group of people who did not enroll in the program. These evaluations are subject to selection bias, since people who enroll in the programs are likely to more motivated than those who do not enroll. These motivated people might be expected to do better even without training programs.

Given this caveat, the review found that three out of six studies of pre-college education programs consisting of classroom education had a negative and significant (but small) impact on post-release recidivism. Three out of four programs showed a statistically significant increase in post-release employment. Four out of six college education programs (again primarily classroom education) showed a statistically significant decline in post-release recidivism, although the effect was small, and there is no evidence that college education leads to increased employment outcomes. Finally, four out of six studies found that vocational education consisting of participation in training and prison industry programs leads to a decline in post-release recidivism. Only two out of four studies showed that vocational education actually led to improvement in post-release employment outcomes. In fact, the one study that had some random assignment (Markley 1983) showed that vocational education had no effect on post-release recidivism or employment. The report concludes that while the evidence is mixed (and therefore encouraging), better evaluations which control for selection bias are needed.

Our own review of these programs found that it is difficult often to tell exactly what is involved in a program. For example, one of the better studies of prison industry programs was done by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (Saylor and Gaes, 1996), following 7,000 individuals. Inmates were considered to have participated in the program if they had participated in industrial work within the prison, or had received in-prison vocational training or apprenticeship training. This program participation is so broad that it is hard to determine which program or program element led to the observed 35% decline in re-arrests (by federal authorities only) for program participants relative to the control group. One the plus side, this seems to be clear evidence that vocational education in federal prisons helps to reduce crime. This is an important positive contribution. However, the lack of precision makes replication in other prison systems difficult. What program worked, and did it work by increasing employment?8

This study also highlights the problem of selection bias. When program participation is open to everyone with no restrictions, it becomes difficult to claim that the non-participants are identical to the participants even if regressions are used to control for observed differences between the groups. Unobserved differences in motivation could account for much of the resulting change in behavior, otherwise attributed to the training/vocational program.

We found one prison-based program which attempted to perform a true randomized experiment to control for selection bias. This program -- Specialized Training and Employment Project or STEP -- was run by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections and evaluated by the University of Wisconsin Medical School (Van Stelle, 1995). This program randomly assigned a well-defined group of offenders to a six-month program prior to release which included participation incentives, classroom and job training in the institution, and post-release employment assistance. This project showed no decline in recidivism after the first year of the program, but the process evaluation stressed the extraordinary difficulty in implementing a program of this intensity within the prison system.

Another approach which avoided prisons entirely was the pre-trial intervention, a major movement during the 1970's. The concept of pre-trial diversions was attached to the labor market in the Court Employment Project. This was evaluated twice by the Vera Institute, first in the late 1960's (Vera Institue 1970) , and then again during 1977-1979 (Baker and Sadd, 1981). In the first less rigorous study, non-serious offenders were offered the opportunity to participate in a 90-day job training and placement program. Successful completion of the program resulted in the dismissal of all charges. Less than half of the participants successfully competed the program. 12 months after the completion of the program, only 15.8% of the successful completers had recidivated, compared to 31% of the non-completers and the control group. Again, the problem of selection bias eliminates the ability to say for sure that the program worked -- the difference between all the program participants (23.6% recidivism rate) and the control group was not statistically significant. Low dosage, problems with implementation and data collection are again cited as part of the reason for the weak results.

By the time the more rigorous study was undertaken almost 8 years later, the program had been assumed into the New York City government and had grown significantly. 410 arrestees were assigned to the program, while 256 controls went through the normal court process. The evaluators found no statistically significant difference between recidivism for the two groups, during the diversion period, twelve months after the diversion or 23 months after the diversion. Partial explanations for the failure of the program include the large disturbance in the program immediately before the evaluation due to New York City's budget crisis. However, the evaluators concluded that there were systematic problems with the structure of the pre-trial diversions. For example, counselors did not believe that it was realistic to change the attitude of offenders towards work in 4 months, especially since participants typically lived in criminogenic enviroments removed from the world of work. Therefore, the training program was not seen as a route to real employment (and hence non-recidivism) but rather as a route away from jail time. In addition, the evaluators felt that the prosecutors had started using the program to control offenders who would otherwise have their cases dismissed, instead of diverting cases which would not be dismissed away from the courts (Hillsman, 1982).

Another approach concentrates on transitional assistance after an individual leaves prison. Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) programs have attempted to help ex-prisoners by giving them a) job search assistance, b) remedial education, c) occupational skills, d) work experience, e) on-the-job training, or f) customized training for a particular employer. The one evaluation of these programs (Finn and Willoughby, 1996) looked at all 521 ex-prisoners who enrolled in JTPA training programs in the state of Georgia for one year starting in July 1989. These enrollees were compared to 734 non-offender JTPA participants. The researchers found no sign of any difference in employment outcomes either at program termination or 14 weeks after termination between the ex-prisoners and the non-offenders. This result is hard to interpret. Other studies have shown a consistent difference between ex-offenders and other workers. Perhaps the finding of no difference indicates that JTPA programs have helped eliminate some of the stigma of offending. However, since JTPA programs are generally regarded as only minimally effective at improving employment outcomes, that conclusion is hypothetical at best.

Another large federally-funded program tried in the late 1970's involved the use of income supplements during post-release in order to lessen the need to commit crime for money at a time when it may be particularly difficult to find a job. These randomized experiments known collectively as the Transitional Aid Research Project [TARP] (Berk, Lenihan and Rossi, 1980) showed that no combination of job training and transitional income support could reduce arrest rates. TARP built on a smaller Baltimore LIFE (Living Insurance for Ex-Offenders) experiment, carefully designed and evaluated (Mallar and Thornton, 1978; Rossi, Berk and Lenihan, 1980; Myers, 1982): The LIFE evaluations found that even combinations of job assistance and counseling for one year had no impact on recidivism but that the transitional payments did make a statistically significant difference. Perhaps TARP could not maintain the program integrity of LIFE once the program was expanded.

Despite the failure of TARP, long term follow-up of the Georgia TARP subjects by Needels (1996) demonstrated that the intuition of these programs is still valid - Needels found that the ex-offenders with jobs commit fewer crimes than the ex-offenders without jobs, and those with higher earnings commit fewer crimes than those with lower earnings. Even after 30 years of trying, however, no program -- in-prison training, transitional assistance (both in kind and monetary assistance) or pre-trial diversion -- has consistently shown itself capable (through a rigorous random assignment evaluation) of decreasing recidivism through labor-market orientated programs, inside or outside of prison. These results might exist because offenders are either too deeply entrenched in crime or the criminal justice system is not an effective delivery system for these types of programs.

Offender-based programs come late in criminal careers, simply because incarceration or even conviction tends to come late. There are strong arguments for intervening early. The next subsection reviews programs that are aimed at high-risk youth before they become involved with the criminal justice system.

Job Training and Education Programs for At-Risk Youth

A large number of relatively well-funded governmental programs have tried to boost the labor market performance of at-risk youths (high school drop-outs, kids from poor households or poor communities). Although we do not have total expenditures for all such job training programs, the largest single program, Job Corps, enrolled 60,000 youth at a total cost of $970 million in 1993, while Title II-C of the JTPA (Job Training and Partnership Act)9 enrolled 360,000 youth at a total cost of $650 million. These programs have undoubtedly attracted the largest amount of government spending of any single labor market category in this review. Encouragingly, there are also many rigorous evaluations, with most studies using some form of randomized experiment (method score 4 or higher); see Table 6-2. In reviewing the findings of these evaluations, we rely primarily on three reviews of the literature: Donohue and Siegelman (1996), Heckman, (1994) and U.S. Department of Labor (1995).

Programs aimed at youth tend to take three forms, arrayed below in order of increasing expense and program intensity.

1) The provision of summer work or other forms of subsidized employment in either public or private sector organizations.10 These programs typically cost about $1,000 (in terms of 1995 dollars) per participant and lasted about three months. The Summer Youth Employment and Training Program [SYETP] is the Department of Labor's current summer jobs program, providing minimum wage summer jobs and some education to hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged youth, aged 14-21. Less typical is the more intense Supported Work program from the late 1970s, which provided about one year of full-time public sector employment to minority high school drop-outs aged 17-20, with job search assistance at the end of the work period.


Non-Criminal Justice System: At-Risk Youth

 Studies         Scientific Method        Description of Intervention and Findings                               
                 Score  (Number of                                                                               

    Summer Jobs/ Subsidized Work                                                                                 

Ahlstrom &                 3             Combines work experience program with a modified academic program.      
Havighurst                               There appeared to a negative effect on arrest, as the experimental      
1982, Kansas           (~100/~100)       group was more likely to be arrested by the age of 16 than was the      
City Work/Study                          comparison group (51% versus 36%).                                      

Cave & Quint                5            Services of Career Beginnings include summer jobs, workshops and        
1990,Career                              classes, counseling and the use of mentors lasting from junior year of  
Beginnings              (621/612)        high school through graduation.  Experimentals were 9.7% more likely    
                                         to attend college than controls (stat.  signif);they therefore worked   
                                         less and earned less.                                                   

Farkas, et al.              4            Guaranteed full-time summer jobs and part-time school year jobs to      
1982, YIEPP                              disadvantaged youth who stayed in school.  School year employment       
                      (2778/ 1255)       doubled from 20% to 40%, while summer employment increased from about   
                                         35% to 45%; however, YIEPP was unable to attain its goals of increased  
                                         school enrollment and success despite the school enrollment             

Grossman & Sipe             5            Program lasting 15 months  which involves remediation, life skills,     
1992, STEP                               summer jobs over  two years and school-year support.  STEP had little   
                       (1613/1613)       or no impact on youth's educational experience and had not altered      
                                         employment patterns for either in-school or out-of-school youth.        

Maynard 1980,               5            Structured transitional employment program which offers limited term    
Supported Work                           employment at relatively low wage rates for up to 12 or 18 months.,     
                        (570/682)        combined with peer group support and close supervision.  Up to 18       
                                         months  post-program, there was a significantly larger % of treatment   
                                         group youth employed; there was no significant impact on arrest rate    
                                         of youths.                                                              

Summer Youth               N/A           Provides summer jobs for youth.  Program appears to greatly increase    
Employment and                           summer employment rates among disadvantaged youth in sites where jobs   
Training                                 are provided; have not investigated whether SYETP creates positive      
Program (SYETP)                          long-term impacts on employment after participants leave their summer   

      Short-Term Training Programs                                                                               

Bloom 1994,                5             Federal government's major training program for disadvantaged youth     
JTPA                                     which provides on average of 5 months of services including on-the-job  
                     (total of 4777)     training, classroom training, and job search assistance (an average of  
                                         420 hrs of service).  After 30 months no increase in earnings was       
                                         found, and there was no decrease in crime rates.                        

Cave, et al.               5             Provides instruction in basic academic skills, occupational skills      
1993, JOBSTART                           training, training related support services and job placement           
                        (988/953)        assistance.  JOBSTART led to a significant increase in the rate of GED  
                                         attainment, or completion of high school.  In the final two years of    
                                         the follow-up, experimentals' earnings appeared to overtake those of    
                                         controls, but the magnitude of this impact was not significant.         

Wolf, et al.               4             Provides job search assistance, educational services and job            
1982, 70001                              preparation classes to high school dropouts (an average of 80-90 hrs.   
Ltd.                   (535/ 440)        Of services are given).  On long-term follow-up (24-40 months.), there  
                                         were no significant earnings impact reported; however, significant      
                                         positive impact on GED attainment.                                      

       Intensive Residential Programs                                                                            

Mallar, et al.             4             Residential program that provides intensive skills training, basic      
1982, Job Corps                          education, support services and job placement for one year.  Average    
                      (4334/ 1457)       over first 4 years after program exit of 15% earnings increase and a    
                                         reduction in serious (felony) crime (both significant).  Also, a large  
                                         and significant increase in GED attainment and college enrollment.      

Wolf, et al.               3             Combines work sponsored by various public resource agencies with youth  
1987,                                    development activities for up to one year.  CCC is not an effective     
California             (943/1083)        way of raising the earnings of all participants when they first enter   
Conservation                             the labor market; however, it did improve earnings of disadvantaged     
Corps.                                   residential corps members and significantly increased their hours       
                                         worked, post-program.                                                   

2) Short-term training with job placement for out-of-school youth. These programs typically last about six months and cost $2,500 to $5,000 per participant. For example, the federal government's principal program for disadvantaged youth, JTPA, enrolled 125,000 out-of-school youth aged 16 to 21 for five months, during which they received on-the-job training, classroom training and job search assistance. JOBSTART was a large scale demonstration program, designed as a more intensive version of JTPA, lasting seven months and including more classroom training, at a cost of $5,000 per participant.

3) Long-term, intensive residential programs providing vocational and life skills training, general education and job placement after graduation. The most prominent of these programs is Job Corps, a residential program aimed at extremely disadvantaged populations. In 1993 Job Corps enrolled 62,000 new youth in tailored one-year programs that included classroom training in basic education, vocational skills, and a wide range of supportive services (including health care), at a cost of roughly $15,000 per student.

Very few evaluations of these programs measure change in criminal behavior, simply because crime prevention is not generally a primary objective and requires substantial and complex additional data collection.11 Crime control is a secondary effect which may happen as the consequence of increased employment, the primary objective. The remainder of this section will briefly review the principal evaluations of these programs, starting with the subsidized work programs.

Subsidized work programs are the cheapest and least intensive of any of the training programs aimed at at-risk youth. Although all subsidized work programs show a decided increase in employment for the targeted population over the time period of the subsidy, no evaluation has shown any long term effect on employment. Not surprisingly, the one evaluation that looked at crime (Supported Work) showed no sustained decrease in crime rates (Piliavin and Masters, 1981). Perhaps more damning, the crime rate of participants in the Supported Work program did not decline while they were working in the subsidized jobs. The conclusions seem robust -- subsidized work does not increase productivity in any appreciable way and these types of jobs do not appear to have the necessary characteristics to be supportive of non-criminal behavior.12

The picture is only slightly less gloomy for short-term skill training programs. None of the rigorous evaluations in this category have shown any lasting impact on employment outcomes, although some of the programs show a short term gain in earnings. It is again not surprising then that the one evaluation that looked at crime shows no lasting impact (JOBSTART). A slightly more detailed look at the data show that while there are no employment gains, there are some educational gains from these programs. JOBSTART and other programs effectively doubled the fraction of GED recipients. Although GED completion is in fact correlated with higher earnings, it apparently serves as a credentialling device rather than a training device; i.e. the fact of earning a GED indicates an ability to sustain consistent effort but working toward the diploma does not actually develop skills. This helps explains why the earnings gains showed in these programs are not long lasting. Eventually, those without GED's are also able to acquire similar jobs; it just takes them longer without the GED credentials. These programs are generally unable to increase productivity in any meaningful way within the constraints of a short-term non-intensive program.

The one positive result in this literature is from the long-term residential training program, Job Corps. Job Corps is by far the most intensive and expensive non-military training sponsored by the federal government. The high cost is a consequence of the residential element of the program and its severely disadvantaged population (over 80% are high school dropouts). The most recent Job Corps evaluation in 1982 was not as rigorous as most of the other evaluations in this literature because it was not randomized experiment. It had to use a comparison group drawn from people eligible but not likely to participate in Job Corps because of geographic location. Despite these limitations, the study was carefully done and generally regarded as credible, although Donohue and Siegelman (1996) raise serious questions about the magnitude of the decline in the homicide rate for enrollees.13

The evaluation found that four years after graduating, enrollees earned on average $1,300 more per year than the control group, a difference of 15%. Not surprisingly, these achievements corresponded with real increases in educational achievement. Enrollees were 5 times as likely to get a GED or finish high school, and twice as likely to go to college. Also, there was a significant decline in arrests for serious crimes, especially theft. However, there was also an unexplained increase in minor arrests, especially traffic incidents.

The failure of all but the most intensive job training programs for at-risk youth to have an effect on either employment or crime raises some serious questions about this particular approach. There are several possible explanations:

1) The first, and simplest explanation is simply that low dosage programs over a six month period (or less) do not have enough statistical power to make a measurable impact.

2) More substantively, these lower dosage programs might not simply be enough to counterbalance a failed academic career that often finds 15 and 16 year olds reading at the 5th grade level. A large amount of training must be exerted in order to raise reading levels four, five and six grade levels.

3) Perhaps Wiliams et al. (1996) have a point in that employment by itself is not enough to stop crime. In fact, employment for youth might be criminogenic -- the low paying, low skill jobs normally taken by youth do not add significantly to human capital, but they do take time away from school activities which could increase human capital.

Points two and three, taken together, suggest that the real, long term answer to this problem for the vast majority of at-risk youth lies not with after-the-fact job training but rather with an effort that makes schooling more meaningful to students before they drop out of school. The Department of Labor, in following this logic, suggests that the answer lies in connecting training to real jobs to a school environment through the recently enacted School to Work Opportunities Act. The emphasis on the school-to-work transition is supposed to make students and schools more motivated to learn, and decrease dropouts (Rosenbaum [1996]). This belief is based in part on the success of Job Corps in connecting education to success in the labor market. This philosophy of using the school-to-work transition as the instrument for improving the utility of regular schooling is untested. Given the administration's commitment to the idea, we expect evaluations will be completed within the next two years.

It is valuable to note that there have been evaluations of school-based anti-dropout programs that are not based on the school-to-work model. Evaluations of these programs are neither as numerous nor as rigorous as those for job training programs. The evidence also suggests that anti-dropout programs, because they involve working within the complex environments of schools (see the School Chapter in this volume) are extremely difficult to implement. However, two random assignment evaluations have shown that intensive anti-dropout programs have had substantial success in reducing drop-out rates and showing gains in human capital acquisition.

The strongest positive evaluation is for the Quantum Opportunities Program (QUOP), a demonstration program offering extensive academic assistance, adult mentoring, career and college guidance, a small stipend and money set aside for a college fund. Services totaling 1286 hours over four years (equivalent to about 6 hours per week) were provided to children from AFDC families throughout high school, at a total cost per participant of $10,600. The rigorous evaluation of 100 students in four sites (random assignment, scientific method score = 5) found that 42% of the QUOP students were in post-secondary education versus only 16% of the controls; a total of 63% of the QUOP students graduated from high schools, versus only 42% of the control group (DOL, 1995). This evaluation has no long-term follow-up of employment outcomes. However, the increase in enrollment in college is likely to be a good predictor of improved labor market performance.

In this evaluation, adult mentors were assessed to be the most important element. Apparently the mentors provide the necessary focus and motivation for students to change their behavior and perform better in school. Yet notice that in QUOP, the key elements of the school-to-work philosophy -- direct connections to the labor market, and contextual learning -- were not employed. As in Job Corps, QUOP students were in routine contact with adults who projected a positive attitude about meaningful employment.

It is impossible within the context of the current literature to determine if mentoring or a school-to-work program (or some combination) is better able to change the motivation of the at-risk youth. However, it is clear that individuals need to become focused on obtaining meaningful and productive employment before they will/can take advantage of job training or schooling. We will discuss other ways to change the orientation of youth later in this section.

Job Training for Adults in the General Population

A narrow focus on job training for at-risk youth is perhaps justified within the context of a crime prevention program. Adults who have not offended by age 25 are at low risk of offending. If they have offended by age 25, chances are they will be already be involved with the criminal justice system. However, some people will be out of the criminal justice system, yet still need training in order to find meaningful employment. These older adults may have a reduced propensity to commit crime due to maturation. As a result, the number of crimes prevented by such a training program might be lessened, but at the same time, these individuals may be finally ready to take advantage of training programs that are offered. In reviewing the extensive literature on job training for the general population, Heckman concludes the following:

Consistent with these findings, older ex-offenders in the Supported Work program appear more responsive to the program than do younger ex-offenders. In addition, older subjects in the Baltimore Life experiment also recidivated less often relative to their controls than did younger subjects. The authors of the Supported Work program conclude "the evidence in this experiment and elsewhere suggests older disadvantaged workers, including those who are known offenders, may be much more responsive (than younger workers) to the opportunity to participate in employment programs (Piliavan and Masters, 1981:45)."

Housing Dispersal and Mobility Programs

Much of the above discussion has been focused on at-risk individuals, rather than places. But depressed urban areas deserve special attention in this chapter given the simultaneous existence of high crime and low employment in these areas. A decade ago, William Julius Wilson (1987) identified the movement of jobs from the inner city to the suburbs as the key factor in the growing concentration of African-American poverty and the social problems related to that hyper-segregation. More recently he has argued that only an employment oriented policy can reduce the social problems of these communities (Wilson, 1996). Yet, as we will see in the following section, stimulating true economic development in the inner city through tax incentives or direct capital subsidies has proven very difficult. Substantial economic forces14 have led to the movement of businesses to the suburbs, and these forces are extremely difficult to counteract (Hughes, 1993).

As a result, policy makers have recently begun to develop ways to change the supply of labor by bringing the people in the inner city to the jobs in the suburbs, instead of bringing jobs to the people in the inner city. One way to do this is to physically relocate inner city residents to the suburbs (housing dispersal programs).

The only published outcome evaluation of the housing dispersal concept is based on what is known as the Gautreaux housing mobility program in Chicago. Starting in 1979, the Gautreaux program has given 6,000 inner city families (primarily single mothers) vouchers that allow them to relocate to low poverty neighborhoods throughout a six county area in and around Chicago. The program, started as the result of a federal court ruling in a housing discrimination case, also allowed families to move within the city of Chicago. Families were assigned to the suburbs or the city based on where there were apartment openings when they became eligible for the program. Because the waiting list was long, and because families were placed at the back of the list when they rejected an opening, very few families rejected an apartment when it was offered, regardless of the location.

Rosenbaum (1992) took advantage of this natural experiment to compare the employment and educational outcomes of the city movers with the suburban movers (scientific method score 4). He found that women who moved to the suburbs were 28% more likely to be employed than the women who moved inside the city, on average 5.5 years after moving. This was true even though the wage gains attributed to the move were the same for all women who worked, regardless of their location. In addition, he found that 9 years (on average) after the move, the children of the suburban movers were doing significantly better than the children of the city movers (scientific method score 315). Although criminal activity was not measured, the children of the suburban movers dropped out of high school only 25% as often as the city movers, were in college track courses 1.6 times as often as the city movers, were 2.5 times as likely to attend college, were more than 4 times as likely to earn $6.50 an hour if working, and only 38% as likely to be unemployed. These results suggest that for children in these environments, relocation can be an effective tool to change their focus towards positive outcomes like meaningful employment.

These large positive results led to significant optimism on the part of policy makers about the benefits associated with simply relocating poor families to non-poverty areas. Several programs modeled on the Gautreaux programs were spawned and now operate in Cincinnati, Memphis, Dallas, Milwaukee and Hartford. In 1992, HUD provided $168 million to fund Moving to Opportunity as a demonstration program for the housing mobility concept. Moving to Opportunity has 5 sites in large cities -- Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles -- and is funded for at least 10 years. The project has been set up with a rigorous evaluation component (scientific method score = 4) -- households are randomly assigned to either placement in a suburban location with less than 10% poverty, placement in the central city, or no treatment. About 1,300 families will be given vouchers which allow them to relocate in low poverty suburbs, along with extensive counseling about relocation and assistance in finding a new apartment. Initial evaluations should be available by mid-year 1997.

Despite Gautreaux's apparent success, and the development of programs like Moving to Opportunity, housing dispersal programs have met significant opposition from suburban residents afraid of the impact of poor minority families on their communities. For example, the expansion of Moving to Opportunity to include more than 1,300 families was defeated after it became a political issue in the 1994 election. The Mount Laurel decision in New Jersey, a two-decade-old, court-enforced dispersal strategy, is now being undermined by legislators. In addition, minorities sometimes voice a concern that the dispersal of minorities to the suburb will weaken minority political power (Hughes, 1993). According to Kale Williams, former director of the Gautreaux program in Chicago, part of the success of Gautreaux was because "it hasn't been large enough to threaten anyone and hasn't been concentrated enough to arouse apprehension." Given these problems, it seems politically unlikely that housing mobility programs will ever expand to any significant size or at least cannot politically afford to move large numbers of poor people in specific non-poor neighborhoods.16

This reality, however frustrating, suggest that perhaps a strategy aimed at integrating workplaces instead of neighborhoods might be easier to implement. This argument suggests that the best approach to the problem of inner city poverty are mobility programs which provide transportation for inner city residents to the suburbs (Hughes, 1993). Such a program recognizes (and takes advantage of) the power of the suburban labor markets to increase residents' incomes while avoiding the political problems associated with housing dispersal. This idea is relatively new, and as a result only a small number of programs are in operation in the United States.17

However, HUD has funded an $18 million dollar demonstration program in five sites starting in 1996 and running for four years. The strategy has three main components: a metropolitan-wide job placement service to connect inner city residents with suburban jobs, a targeted commute mechanism to provide transportation to the jobs, and a support services mechanism which will try to ameliorate some of the problems that may arise due to a long-distance commute into a primarily white suburban location. Rigorous evaluation with random assignment will be undertaken by Public/Private Ventures. If successful, this program will form a key component of the welfare reform strategy.

The mobility programs are rooted in theoretically very different approaches to reducing central-city crime. Housing dispersal programs attempt to break up the poverty community. Reverse commuting preserves the community but at a cost: the long commuting causes reduced guardianship and parenting that have potentially negative effects in their home communities. Children also do not benefit in the same way because they continue to live in the same depressed environments. These reverse commuting programs might serve to increase employment and decrease the criminal activity of a particular person, but the programs will probably not have the indirect anti-criminogenic effects of housing dispersal programs.


Bonding and Wage Supplements

All the programs described in the previous section focused on changing individual behavior. Yet perhaps employers feel that certain individuals, particularly ex-offenders, represent a potential risk. A criminal history record appears to be a predictor of low job attachment (in part because of the risk of future arrest and incarceration), poor performance, theft and malingering. To overcome these barriers, a number of demand-side programs offer to compensate employers for incurring the risk of hiring workers with a criminal record.

One class of program directly lowers the employer's wage payments, either with a subsidy or through a targeted job tax credit (i.e. the employer of a particular class of worker is able to deduct the payments or some portion of them, from his taxable income. This reduces the amount that an employer has to pay the worker, the difference being picked up by the government. The programs are transitional and are intended to last just long enough to allow the offender to acquire a work history that of itself will increase future prospects. The second class of program is more indirect and takes the form of subsidized bonding of offenders, thus reducing the cost for the employer of insuring himself against specific crimes, such as inventory theft; such bonding is normally provided by private corporations.

The federal government , however, has offered a very low level of funding for these programs. The Department of Labor discontinued in 1995 the Targeted Jobs Tax Credit, for which the annual budget never exceeded $10 million, with most of that targeted to other disadvantaged groups. Some state Departments of Corrections (e.g., Texas) do offer wage subsidies. However no evaluation identifies the impact of these on either employment or crime. In addition, some researchers (DOL, 1995) feel that these programs actually hurt ex-offenders by clearly identifying their ex-offender status. While it might be worthwhile to fund an evaluation of the very small Federal Bonding program ($240,000 total in 1996), the one independent review of the Targeted Jobs Tax Credit was not optimistic that these programs improved employment among ex-prisoners (Jacobs, 1984).

Enterprise Zones

Community development programs use demand-side policies to help particular areas. Although these programs are focused on depressed areas, like housing dispersal programs, community development programs can be used in a wider array of settings. These programs are of particular interest for crime prevention because they propose to help both individuals and neighborhoods. New jobs present more opportunities for legitimate work to compete with illegitimate opportunities often present in these communities. Jobs visibly available in an area would also provide motivation for education and skills training for young people. The economic activity that new or expanded businesses represent can also lead to increased social interactions among residents and strengthen social institutions (churches, business organizations, schools) which can exert a positive influence on individuals who might otherwise revert to crime.

Enterprise zones are one relatively new policy tool focusing tax incentives at generally small, economically depressed geographic areas (Papke, 1993, Erickson and Friedman, 1991). According to Erickson and Friedman (1991) these programs typically employ three different types of program incentives to encourage job development: investment incentives, labor incentives and financial incentives. The investment incentives include credits for property taxes, franchise taxes , sales taxes, investment taxes and other possibly state-idiosyncratic employer taxes (e.g., inventory tax credits). The labor incentives include a tax credit for job creation, for hiring a zone resident or some other disadvantaged person, and for training expenditures . Finally, the finance incentives sometimes include an investment fund associated with the program and preferential treatment for federal bond programs. These programs are based on the assumption that employers are sensitive to state and local tax incentives in their location decisions. The academic literature shows mixed results about the validity of this claim, although recent evidence suggests that investment is more responsive to state and local taxes than previously thought (Bartik, 1991).

As of 1995, 34 states had a total of 3,091 active enterprise zone programs (median = 16) and the Federal Empowerment Zone and Enterprise Community Program has introduced 106 more zones (Wilder and Rubin, 1996). The state zones are limited in the value of the incentives they can offer, precisely because federal taxes (e.g., corporate profits tax) are so large and cannot be waived by the state. According to Erickson and Friedman (1991), the median zone population for the state programs is about 4,500 persons and the median zone size is about 1.8 square miles. Zone designation is usually based on unemployment rates, population decline, poverty rates, median incomes, the number of welfare recipients or the amount of property abandonment. The federal program amounted to $640 million in total tax credits in FY 1995.

Since these programs are relatively new, (the median state began its program in 1984) there are few outcome evaluations, most of which are reviewed in Wilder and Rubin (1996); no evaluations of the federal program have yet been conducted. All evaluations consider only the immediate economic outcomes of these programs, and do not examine the larger social implications (such as crime reductions) of the programs; see Table 6-3. Only Bartik and Bingham show an awareness that this is a shortcoming of these evaluations. The evaluations also do not attempt to determine the impacts of individual incentives. Although ideally researchers could identify the most effective tax break, the incentives are typically used in concert, so that the economic growth in any given zone cannot be attributed to any one incentive; nor is it possible to separate out component effects using econometric techniques.

The main theoretical concern about enterprise zones is that they will simply relocate existing jobs rather than create new jobs. In fact, Britain, which pioneered these zones, abandoned its enterprise zone program after researchers found that nearly all jobs in enterprise zones (86%) were due to relocation from neighboring communities. The US experience is somewhat more optimistic - the literature seems to agree that, of all the new jobs found in enterprise zones, roughly 25% are due to relocation, 25% are due to new business and 50% are due to expansion of existing businesses (Wilder and Rubin, 1996). Of course, not all the jobs that appear in the enterprise zone should be attributed directly to the zone incentives. However, the primary modes of evaluation in this field, correlation and before-and-after without comparison group (scientific method score 1 and 2), do not allow researchers to isolate the contribution of the zone incentives.

In addition, most of these studies use data from surveys of zone firms or zone managers; these lack credibility as measures since both groups have an incentive to place a positive bias on the outcomes.18 These studies generally conclude that the zones increase jobs and investment, although results vary by zone.19


Enterprise Zones

 Studies            Scientific Method        Description of Intervention and Findings                    
                    Score  (Number of                                                                    

Boarnet & Bogart              3             New Jersey EZs have no impact on employment and business     
1995                                        growth.                                                      

Papke 1992                    3             Indiana EZs decrease zone unemployment by 19%.               

Bostik 1996                   3             California EZs in small cities increase business             

CA State Auditor              1             Survey of firms indicate small net increase in economic      
1988                                        activity with wide variability across zones.                 

Dowall, et al.                2             Although employment growth and increased business activity   
1994                                        increased in all CA zones, researchers concluded that zone   
                             (13)           incentives could not be linked to growth.                    

Erickson &                    1             EZs in 17 states appear to create jobs in areas with         
Friedman 1991                               development potential.  EZs are ineffective in highly        
                             (35)           distressed areas.                                            

GAO 1988                      2             3 rural Maryland EZs zones showed significant increases in   
                                            employment and investment after zone designation.            

HUD 1986                      1             Interviews with zone managers in 10 zones in 9 states        
                                            responsible show zones lead to significant new investment    
                             (10)           and job growth.                                              

Jones 1985                    2             Connecticut EZ has no impact on building activity            

Jones 1987                    2             Illinois EZ has an impact on building activity               

Wilder & Rubin                1             Firm-level survey data show increase in jobs due to Indiana  
1989                                        EZ in Evanston.                                              

Only three studies (Papke, 1994; Boarnet and Bogart, 1996; and Bostic, 1996) attain a level 3 scientific method score; they are before-and-after studies of a particular state's enterprise zone program (Indiana, New Jersey and California respectively) with comparison groups from other eligible areas in the state. Each study also uses data collected by independent agencies, so the data is unlikely to be biased by EZ participants. The first two studies used econometric methods to control for selection bias, the latter did not.

The results of the first two studies contrast strongly -- the New Jersey study found that the zones had no impact on total employment or property values in municipalities with zones,20 while the Indiana study found that the zones led to a long term 19% decline in unemployment rates in municipalities with enterprise zones. The Indiana researcher was somewhat surprised by the magnitude of this effect, given that the employment incentives were limited in the Indiana zones. But the study also found that firms responded to reductions in inventory taxes by increasing inventory by 8% and reducing capital machinery by 13%. These changes in inventory and machinery may represent the conversion of firms from manufacturing to more emphasis on distribution, generating a positive impact on employment.

Bostic's study used investment growth rather than employment as the principal outcome measure, He found that the EZs had a significant but small impact on commercial construction permits and an insignificant impact on the number of businesses in an area.

Clearly, additional research is needed to verify the positive impact of enterprise zones on employment and investment. Abt Associates have been commissioned to do an evaluation of the Federal Empowerment Zones and Engberg et al. at Carnegie Mellon are undertaking a comprehensive evaluation of state enterprise zones with controls for selection bias.

Community Development Block Grants

The 1974 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program represents the other major federally funded program aimed directly at revitalizing distressed neighborhoods. Instead of relying on tax credits as incentives, this program provides direct funding to local governments. In 1992, CDBGs provided local jurisdictions with $3.4 billion to be spent on activities that support any one of three objectives: benefiting low-a and moderate-income persons, preventing or eliminating slums or blight, or addressing other urgent community needs. The program funding breaks down broadly into 5 main areas: housing (38%), public facilities (22%), economic development (12%), public services (9%) and acquisition and clearance (6%). Although there are no outcome evaluations of this program,21 the sheer size of the economic development component of this program ($251 million in 1992) demands inclusion in this section.

Most of what follows is based on a 1995 funding process evaluation sponsored by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (Urban Institute, 1995). The evaluation, like those for Enterprise Zones, considers only economic outcomes. A full 78% of the $251 million economic development grant money was spent on loans and grants to private businesses. Most of the recipient businesses were small, and 37% of these businesses were minority owned. These loans seemed to perform better than the non-geographically targeted Small Business Administration loans. According to the HUD report, these loans were more important to the business activities of the recipients than the EZ tax incentives,22 but neighborhood residents held a comparable number of the newly created jobs under both programs (approximately 30%).

An effort was made to provide a before-and-after study of 250 census tracts in the CDBG program (scientific method score = 2), using a survey on all CDBG funding and census data from 1980 and 1990. This study found a clear relationship between the level of funding and tract income: tracts that saw an increase in income received $1,247 per capita, tracts that were stable between the two time periods received $844 per capita and tracts that declined received $737 per capita. Improvement in low-income tracts usually only occurred through gentrification or out-migration of low income people, but in several instances the arrival of major industrial facilities resulted in an increase in income for the tract residents.23

In more general terms, the researchers concluded that the existence of an income-mix among neighborhood residents and a healthy commercial district appeared to help development. Within the context of this review, these factors could signal the existence of a certain level of social control which would allow community programs to be effective. Neighborhoods without these factors may not have enough social capital to take advantage of any community-based program.


Existing evaluations of interventions aimed at increasing employment for high risk populations provide little positive guidance as to the appropriate direction of labor market policies for more effective crime prevention. The demand-side programs (Community Development Block Grants and Enterprise Zones) have not been subject to rigorous evaluation. Moreover, they involve such a broad array of incentives and funds that it will be hard to determine what might explain any positive findings and thus what is worth replicating. Evaluations of training and education programs, aimed at labor supply, have shown little positive consistency; there are merely hints as to what constitutes a successful program and there are very few findings specifically on crime reductions. Programs aimed at ex-offenders do a little better but again there is a lack of consistent positive findings that allow one to say that specific interventions work for large segments of the eligible population.

The negative findings concerning job training and employment for high risk groups may primarily be explained by the extremely limited nature of most of the interventions that have been tried. Heckman (1994) makes this point nicely with respect to training programs generally. He suggests a mind experiment. Assign a generous annual real rate of return of 10 percent to social programs, higher than is usually observed for investments in education. Interventions that cost $2,500 per client and are aimed exclusively at raising the earnings of participants would then be expected to produce annual earnings increases of $250. This is far too small an amount to lift someone out of poverty (being only about 3% of the required income for an individual) or to improve life prospects enough for most participants that they might make large changes in their decisions about schooling and work.

Not only are small quantities of services provided but the range of risk factors targeted is very narrow. Providing jobs for adults will only weakly compensate for failure to invest in human capital when young. Some theoretically promising interventions have not been tried but merit exploration as a major tool for reducing criminality among young adults. These interventions have to address both the individual dynamics and social ecology of the crime/work choice. The remainder of this section considers the special challenges associated with high crime/low employment areas.

The central argument is simple enough and not original to us. Crime and unemployment are most strongly linked at the community level, at least in urban areas. Persistently very high unemployment rates will generate high crime; that high crime will drive out capital and make jobs increasingly remote. That produces a downward spiral to a low employment/high crime equilibrium which is very stable and highly resistant to small increases in employment or reductions in crime. Interventions have to explicitly deal with crime and employment simultaneously. No evaluated intervention has done so.24

The most important mediating factor in this story may be the motivations of community residents. For example, the isolation of high poverty neighborhoods from the legitimate job market may be critical in accounting for the lack of motivation among youth in these neighborhoods. Rosenbaum (1996), among others, makes this point by observing that youth have difficulty finding employment when they live in impoverished neighborhoods without well-developed job connections. That is exacerbated by geographic isolation from jobs and the possibility of racial discrimination. The perceived returns to continuing in school or in acquiring human capital in other ways is low. This leads to low high school graduation rates and high attrition in training programs, maintaining the under investment in human capital of the previous generation in high poverty neighborhoods.

The claim that improving perceived legitimate employment opportunities will increase school attachment is still not well tested. The available evidence does suggest, however, that school achievement is affected by the achievement of others in the same community. For example, Case and Katz (1991) and Mayor (1991) found that youth are more likely to stay in school or work if a large proportion of their peers do.25 The Department of Labor (1995) review of evaluations used this finding as the basis for a claim that poor neighborhoods should be saturated with a range of interventions intended to alleviate poverty, so that "the employment outcomes of some persons within a community can lead to `spillover effects' as other people in the neighborhood are influenced by the positive actions of their peers." (p.63).

There is some disagreement on the issue of the importance of neighborhood effects. The evaluation of the JTPA program claims that the "external environmental factors - unemployment rates, population density,….had weak effects, if any, on (individual JTPA program) success." (PPV, 1994: 5). However, the same report claims that business involvement with training programs is crucial because "it provides a built-in incentive for participants to feel that their participation is worthwhile." (PPV, 1994, p.14). The tie to business is itself possibly a proxy for community attachment to the labor market.

We believe the community level problem is compounded in two ways by drugs. A large fraction of adult criminal offenders are substance abusers; their involvement with expensive illicit drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, is distinctive. This represents a major employment handicap. Thus workforce oriented interventions will have to deal with the substance abuse problem of potential workers if they are to increase employment and thus reduce crime. Employment is itself possibly a protective factor for substance abuse, increasing the probability of desistance. High risk youth now show more moderate rates of abuse of expensive illicit substances (as reflected in the data from the National Institute of Justice's Drug Use Forecasting program for juveniles) but such risk still needs to be addressed in the context of labor market programs in high risk communities.

Illicit drugs are also a major problem because recent research shows that drug markets in impoverished neighborhoods provide substantial alternative employment to legal markets. For example, Reuter, MacCoun and Murphy (1990) reported that drug selling earned its participants about $30 per hour in Washington in 1988. Saner, MacCoun and Reuter (1995) found that approximately 30 percent of the 1967 cohort of black males resident in the District of Columbia had been charged with drug selling between the ages of 18 and 24. The existence of attractive alternatives outside the legitimate labor market will complicate any program aimed at attracting individuals to legitimate work opportunity. Also, in contrast to the pre-cocaine-epidemic period, drug selling may now precede drug use; those who sell as juveniles become consumers of their own drugs, making it still more difficult to maintain legitimate employment as adults.

High unemployment neighborhoods generally show high levels of drug selling; this further weakens the ability of individually focused programs to increase employment prospects for men who continually have opportunities to earn substantial amounts in drug selling. In addition, neighborhoods where many males support themselves through some drug selling will not have many of the social institutions that support legitimate work. This will make it more difficult for individuals in these neighborhoods to make the transition to legitimate work.

We have made this long digression about drugs as a reminder again how important it is to take the community as the central focus for programmatic intervention. Individually oriented programs cannot ameliorate many of the fundamental problems faced by program participants. Similarly, programs like reverse commuting, though they may bring important benefits for individuals, will generate few benefits for the most adversely affected communities. Indeed, as already mentioned, the long commutes involved in such programs reduce still further the extent of adult supervision of children that is such an important component of effective community. Programs like Gautreaux which take households out of the community also paradoxically may worsen the situation of those who remain, since the movers are likely to be among the more forward looking adults in these fragile inner city communities. This of course suggests the attractions of the converse, bringing some middle-class households back into the neighborhoods that are so devastated. But crime is as much an obstacle to that as it is to encouraging employers to relocate in the same communities.


We have reviewed here a large variety of programs that might reduce crime by increasing employment and labor market outcomes for high risk populations. Our assessments (using the criteria articulated in Chapter 2) of which program types work, which programs do not work, which are promising and for which we can venture no opinion are contained in Table 6-4.

Table 6-4

Program Conclusions

What works?                                                                                                    

1) Short-term vocational training programs for older male ex-offenders no longer involved in the criminal      
justice system.                                                                                                


What does not work?                                                                                            

1) Summer job or subsidized work programs for at-risk youth.                                                   

2) Short-term, non-residential training programs for at-risk youth.                                            

3) Pre-trial diversions for adult offenders which make employment training a condition of case dismissal.      


What is promising?                                                                                             

1) Intensive, residential training programs for at-risk youth (Job Corps).                                     

2) Prison-based vocational education programs for adults                                                       

3) Housing dispersion programs                                                                                 

4) Enterprise Zones                                                                                            


What do not we not know enough about?                                                                          

1)  CJS-based programs for juvenile offenders                                                                  

2)  Post-release transitional assistance for offenders.                                                        

3)  Reverse commuting                                                                                          

4)  Wage subsidies                                                                                             

5)  Bonding programs                                                                                           

6)  Community development as done through the Community Development Block Grant Program.                       

7)  School-to-Work programs funded by the School-to-Work Opportunities Act.                                    

Programs that Work

The one program type for which the evidence of effectiveness is fairly strong is vocational programs aimed at older males ex-offenders who are no longer in the criminal justice system. We gave little attention to this in the body of the chapter because these programs, though useful, come late in criminal careers. Reducing crime by 35 year olds who have previously been criminally active, will have a modest effect on serious violent crime, which is predominantly committed by younger males. The explanation for the success of these programs may be found in theories of life course events. Age generally increases the desire for stability, lowers the desire for risk and raises concern about the future. JTPA job training, (even for periods as short as 90 days) may have an impact because many of those who enroll are now motivated to seek employment.

What Does Not Work

In contrast, there have been numerous, well-conducted evaluations of well-executed, short-term (many of them summer only) programs aimed at at-risk youth, typically 15-21 year-olds. These have repeatedly found no effect on earnings and crime rates. The high attrition rates we take to be symptomatic of the lack of motivation for many participants, reflecting their perception of weak employment opportunities in early adult life. Without any evidence of impact on other risk or protective factors, we believe that these programs cannot be justified on crime prevention grounds. The two serious evaluations of pre-trial diversion programs suggest that pre-trial diversion programs do not work, at least in part because of the programs tend to get co-opted by the prosecutors for purposes other than the intended purpose of rehabilitating offenders.

Promising Programs

The one class of program aimed at high risk youth for which positive results have been shown is Job Corps, which is both residential and, in terms of expenditures, very intensive ($15,000 per youth). However there is only one rigorous evaluation (moreover one that has some methodological weaknesses), although another major Job Corps evaluation is in process. Thus we can only classify this type of program as promising. The reasons for its possible success are multiple: it re-socializes the youth by breaking community ties and presenting pro-social role models; its residential requirement reduces the intensity of contacts with anti-social groups and illegal earnings opportunities; its vocational focus and attachment to the labor market provides academic training in a supportive environment.

Prison-based vocational education programs aimed at adults, who constitute the vast majority of the correctional population, are also promising. This again may be explained by the life course model. The current evidence suggests that something works, but no random control trial has found an impact, and few studies have been able to pinpoint exactly what works. Program implementation within a correctional facility and inmate motivation remain major problems. We suggest that the problem of motivation be dealt with by randomly selecting individuals for participation from within a pre-selected pool of motivated individuals.

The last promising programs on the supply side of the labor market are programs that provide dispersed housing for poverty-level households. The Gautreaux program has been found to have had a positive impact on both mothers and children. The program has been operating for many years and fairly large numbers of households (over 6,000 families) have made use of it. Its apparent success in terms of improving educational and employment outcomes for both mothers and children is sufficiently strong that crime reductions can reasonably be inferred. We classify it only as promising because, apart from our formal requirement that there be more than one rigorous evaluation before it be classified as working, the one existing evaluation has many weaknesses. Results from the multi-site, federally-funded Moving to Opportunity program are scheduled to be available in 1997; this should shed more light on the efficacy of this type of program.

On the demand side, enterprise zones have a mixed record according to the few moderately rigorous evaluations that have been conducted. We classify the program as promising on the grounds that if designed with crime prevention objectives in mind (i.e., as part of a more comprehensive effort) it may include a critical ingredient of what is necessary for making high risk communities safer. The federal government is currently funding a large enterprise zone program - it will be interesting to see if the program evaluators consider both the problems caused by crime in these areas, or look at the crime reduction effects of some of these programs. Current evidence suggests that areas with high crime are less likely to succeed.

Programs About Which Too Little is Known

Table 6-4 contains a list of seven program types about which too little is known for any judgment beyond the broadest sense of theoretical plausibility. We include some programs that have frequently been evaluated and have produced mixed results.

The programs that have not been subject to any rigorous evaluation are: bonding programs, Community Development Block Grants, reverse commuting, school-to-work programs and targeted wage subsidies. Though theoretical arguments can be made for each of them, those arguments seem strongest for CDBGs (see Section V), and school-to-work. School-to-work's focus on avoiding dropout and developing human capital over the long run is an interesting response to the motivation and dosage problems we identified in Section III.

For the remaining three types of programs, a number of conflicting results have been produced. Criminal justice-based programs for improving the employment prospects of juveniles seems to have shaky theoretical premises. Employment concerns are not strong for those under 17 and there is a small but growing literature suggesting that early work gives youth too much autonomy at too early an age by lessening their dependence on family. In addition, time spent working is time spent away from conventional schooling which might lead to more meaningful employment (see Cullen, 1996).

The mixed results from evaluations of transitional assistance for inmates leaving the criminal justice system is harder to explain. Internal doubts about their ability to succeed in conventional society and the external forces that limit them initially to fairly poor jobs combine to create a very difficult transition, especially for offenders without family or friend networks. Transitional aid then seems particularly appropriate. Yet the results from TARP and Baltimore LIFE seem to suggest that motivation (or focus), rather than money is the important issue. Some programs like Project Rio in Texas appear to have success reintegrating offenders using caseworkers, but the program has not been rigorously evaluated.

Bonding and wage subsidies are intended to help with the transition from the criminal justice system to legitimate employment. These components have not been heavily evaluated. There is some concern that wage subsidies and bonding tend to work against offenders by clearly identifying their status to employers.

Program Recommendations

Our program recommendations for OJP are modest, principally because Congress has not directed the department to become involved in funding labor-market-oriented programs outside of the criminal justice system and because such programs clearly have much broader objectives than simply crime prevention. Given the evidence summarized above, we believe that Congress should encourage OJP to continue modest funding of programs that aim at improving the employment prospects of older ex-offenders. The programs do not need to be intensive to be effective and these programs are generally working on the back end of the criminal career. The concept behind Operation Weed and Seed also has some merit -- we defer to Chapter 3 for recommendations on this program. The negative findings concerning the effects of short-term subsidized work and non-residential training programs speak not to OJP programs but rather to efforts funded principally by the Department of Labor.


We have more recommendations concerning research and evaluation. Congress should encourage OJP to take advantage of on-going offender transition programs in state and federal systems to implement rigorous program evaluations of some of the more promising programs. We also recommend that research efforts be focused on the problem of implementing vocational programs within the prison system. Since it appears from some level 3 studies that vocational programs do have some effect, randomized experiments which control for selection bias while also isolating the effective characteristic of the program are clearly appropriate.

The remaining recommendations focus on opportunities for Congress to encgourage OJP collaboration with other federal agencies in examining whether interventions with other social aims also have crime prevention impacts. Other agencies will benefit in two general ways. First, crime reduction should be an important element of cost/benefit estimates. Second, crime prevention considerations may aid program design. We illustrate these by considering three important program classes: welfare reform, school-to-work transitions, and enterprise zones.

Welfare Reform

Perhaps no policy innovation in recent times has attracted such intense analytic interest as the effort to fundamentally alter the long-standing basic federal welfare program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), now converted to Transitional Aid for Needy Families (TANF) and made principally a state responsibility. The center piece of welfare reform is an effort to move women at risk of becoming long-term welfare recipients into employment. This has potentially enormous consequences for their children. If it is successful, a large number of young males will grow up in households that have regular contact with the workplace rather than with welfare checks. On the other hand, if welfare reform fails and large numbers of single mothers become even poorer and more reliant on illegal earnings, this may well have criminogenic effects on their children.

On a number of theoretical grounds, this may have an important impact on youth attitudes toward work and hence the prospect of becoming serious violent offenders. Successful welfare reform could turn out to be the most important social program for crime prevention in recent decades, though the effects will surely not show up for quite some time.

To our knowledge, little attention is being given to the crime prevention consequences of this change. It is important the Congress direct OJP to take advantage of the many large scale research and evaluation efforts that are now being put in place, both by the federal government and by major foundations (e.g., the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which is funding a 5 year $30 million program at the Urban Institute) to ensure that they assess the extent to which, and the mechanisms by which, welfare reform affects the criminal behavior of the children of women at risk of long-term welfare dependence. Though, as always, crime measures increase the complexity of the measurement task, it is likely that crime will play an important role in the final evaluation of the reform's success.

School-to-Work Transitions

There is growing interest in improving the flow of non-college bound high school graduates into the work force. This has been an area of program innovation again in which Congress has not encouraged OJP to play a significant role. Ensuring that evaluations include crime measures will increase the comprehensiveness of the evaluations and may provide OJP with a major program opportunity.

Enterprise Zones and Community Development Block Grants

A major attribute, arguably the principal attribute, of inner-city communities that makes them unattractive to employers is the high crime rates. Already, OJP is part of a working group cooperating with the consortium of federal agencies that operate the federal EZ and CDBG programs. We believe this cooperation is important to the success of any such comprehensive programs, in part because reductions in crime may be able to explain variations in employment outcomes. Understanding the role that crime control plays in attracting investment is another crucial, but understudied part of community development programs.

One new multi-agency initiative might be an effort to assess whether a large scale job creation program, backed by other crime prevention measures, can make a substantial and lasting difference in high-crime communities. William Julius Wilson concluded that the lack of jobs was the principal source of the decline of the neighborhoods that now account for such a large share of American crime and outlined an ambitious program of interventions to respond to this problem. As even he admits, it is unclear that such a program can be implemented but there is certainly good theoretical argument for trying.

However, this proposition does force us to confront a central paradox of prevention evaluation. Learning occurs through examination of variations in one or a few components but successful interventions aimed at improving labor market outcomes for high risk individuals and communities are likely to involve the simultaneous implementation of a large number of programs. But in a situation where individual interventions seem to have limited promise, testing whether a generous cocktail of programs can succeed may be an important first step.

This insight lays the groundwork for what we believe must be the theoretical bedrock of any successful program aimed at increasing labor market participation in order to decrease crime: A program must connect a community or individuals to the world of legitimate work so that residents will have the proper incentives to acquire the necessary human capital needed for success in that world. Without that connection, any work program is unlikely to succeed in a substantial way.


1Employment, like crime, has many dimensions. Jobs vary in wage rates, work satisfaction, and duration. Measured correlation between employment rates and crime may be confounded by failure to measure variation in job quality adequately.

2We focus here on employment measures rather than unemployment because in many areas the problem is less formally defined unemployment than low labor force participation rate. In the face of persistent unemployment, discouragement may lead to drop out even from job search.

3This may reflect the higher quality of post 1970 data, itself a consequence of the activities of the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration and the investment in computers, among other factors.

4It is difficult to classify all job training programs in terms of our programmatic interest. For example, Job Training and Partnership Act (JTPA)-Title IIA ($1 billion in FY 1993) is aimed at economically disadvantaged adults; some of those adults may be involved with the criminal justice system and others may still be young enough to be reasonably classified as “youth” but many may be at slight risk of serious criminal involvement. Given the large number of other JTPA Titles that were more directly targeted at disadvantaged youth, we did not include any of Title-IIA.

5We identify the targets as offenders rather than ex-offenders because in fact what is known is that they have committed a crime. The ex-offender status is a goal rather than a description.

6Differences in release date meant that a uniform follow-up period would have excluded significant periods of post-release exposure for some participants.

7Note once again that the VDS and Supported Work programs cited above are not technically part of the juvenile CJS.

8These questions are particularly hard to examine because the report provides no data on employment outcomes.

9JTPA is the main federal funding source for job training programs in the U.S.. JTPA funds a number of discrete program types including a) job search assistance, b) remedial education, c) occupational training d) work experience e) on-the-job training or f) customized training for a particular employer.

10Strictly speaking the provision of a job is not a job training or education program. However many employment skills are learned on the job; employment increases future employability.

11Self-report from program participants about crime involves inquiring about sensitive behaviors. Official record checks of criminal histories requires obtaining Privacy Act protected information from a different set of agencies than those providing the other outcome data.

12This result is supportive of Sampson and Laub (1990) who claim that its not the job but the social bonds of the workplace, bonds that probably are absent in a short-term subsidized work environment.

13The reported reduction in homicide rates suggests that the control group had extraordinarily high homicide rates compared to their peers, thus making suspect the claimed reduction in homicides for the experimentals. Homicide reductions accounted for a large share of the dollar benefits estimated in the evaluation. On the other hand the figure used for estimating the value of a life for homicides was much lower than reported elsewhere in the literature; it is possible that the errors roughly cancel out.

14Massey and Denton (1993) argue that the strong desire for racial segregation has also been an impetus for the exit of jobs.

15The sample is different for the children and the mothers. The children come from a sample originally composed in 1982. They were reinterviewed in 1989. Only 59% of the original sample could be relocated, and most of those relocated had not moved from the original location. The potential for bias exists because the harder to locate families might vary by suburban or urban location.

16Of course, many of the same objectives met by housing dispersal programs could be met by encouraging gentrification of older depressed neighborhoods.

17Within this area, we noted the absence of any discussion of the role of crime in driving business to the suburbs, or the potential crime prevention effects of new job connections in the suburbs.

18In an attempt to determine what would have happened if the zones had not existed, these surveys ask zone firms and zone managers how many of the jobs were due directly to the incentives. Obviously, it is in the self-interest of both sets of agents to provide positive answers.

19The surveys did provide useful insight into the elements of programs which seemed to work best. Bostic (1996) concludes that the incentives provide only marginal incentive for firms to locate in zoning areas. Program success in California depends on supplementing the tax incentives with an active local government or community effort, mainly with marketing. Wilder and Rubin (1996) conclude that places with severe economic blight need additional assistance beyond enterprise zones, and autonomous management of the zone is effective. Finally, Erickson and Friedman (1991) conclude that the most successful state programs restrict the number of zones, use a competitive award process (which pulls together local resources), and provide significant incentives to these limited, targeted areas.

20This result is especially interesting given that a before and after study by Rubin (1990) found substantial effects in New Jersey.

21The lack of outcome evaluations is attributed to the flexibility of the programs, the lack of credible evidence about what would have occurred in the absence of the program and the inability to conceptualize and measure clear outcomes at a neighborhood level.

22A full 80% of recipients said that the loan was crucial to their activity, while EZ incentives are typically important for 30 to 40% of all EZ businesses (Wilder and Rubin 1996).

23Although these numbers appear to suggest that higher CDGB funding generates improvements, this conclusion is not possible without some other comparison. For example, there may be selection bias, as the result of better organized communities, which are more likely to be improving economically anyway, may do better in the grant application process.

24Operation Weed and Seed, a major OJP program described in Chapter 3, did make an effort to do so. As Chapter 3 discusses, the evaluation was not an integral part of the project, and no results are as of yet available. Difficulty obtaining baseline data after program initiation has made the evaluation particularly difficult.

25Analytically, the problem is to disentangle true peer impacts from the tendency of people with similar unobservable characteristics to live near each other.


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