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Effectiveness of Prisoner Reentry Services as Crime-Control: The Fortune Society

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2008
123 pages
This evaluation examined whether volunteer services by the Fortune Society (New York City) to offenders returning to their communities after being jailed or imprisoned reduced their recidivism and homelessness.
Using multivariate survival analysis techniques in accounting for the effects of measured differences among Fortune Society clients and nonclients, the evaluation determined that participation in Fortune's services had a positive effect on released jail prisoners' ability to avoid homelessness throughout the years following release; however, there was no similar effect for returning State prisoners. A possible explanation for this difference is that returning State prisoners had more access to State parole supervision than city jail prisoners, with the result that Fortune's level of services was greater for city prisoners. No evidence of positive effects on recidivism was found for Fortune clients. In fact, Fortune clients were more likely to reoffend than nonclients, even after controlling for several measured differences among them. This finding should not be interpreted to mean that Fortune services had negative effects on clients, since all factors associated with the risk of reoffending were not measured due to a lack of sufficient information. Fortune clients typically had long criminal records, little education, no legitimate employment, and few employable skills; and they were dependent on others for housing. Participation rates in Fortune's services were generally low, with one in four clients dropping out and fewer than half completing the course of services. Half participated in no more than nine group sessions. Recidivism was measured by an arrest leading to conviction, and homelessness was indicated by a request for shelter from the city's Department of Homeless Services. Data were collected on Fortune clients released from State prisons or city jails during 2000-2005 and compared to nonclients released during the same period. 24 tables, 4 figures, and 75 references

Date Published: November 1, 2008