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Habilitation or Harm: Project Greenlight and the Potential Consequences of Correctional Programming

NCJ Number
National Institute of Justice Journal Issue: 257 Dated: June 2007 Pages: 1-47
Date Published
June 2007
6 pages
Publication Series
This article presents evaluation findings of a short-term, prison-based reentry demonstration program in New York known as Project Greenlight.

Findings from the evaluation of Project Greenlight indicated no differences between the Project Greenlight group and the two comparison groups in terms of employment, family relationships, and use of homeless shelters 1 year following prison release. Moreover, although Project Greenlight participants reported more knowledge and a more positive attitude toward parole than comparison subjects, they were no more likely to follow parole conditions than participants in the control groups. In terms of the effect on recidivism, Project Greenlight participants actually fared slightly worse than the two control groups in rearrest and parole revocation rates 1 year following release. The author suggests that Project Greenlight suffered from program design and implementation problems that may have led to the negative evaluation results. Specifically, the standard cognitive-behavioral component was substantially altered to allow for more participants and each inmate participant was forced to complete each and every component of the program rather than targeting their individual needs. It is suggested that programs carefully target interventions and avoid a "kitchen sink" approach, which may actually harm inmates more than help them. Key elements of Project Greenlight, which was run by the New York State Department of Correctional Services and the New York State Division of Parole, included: (1) cognitive-behavioral skills training; (2) employment assistance; (3) housing assistance; (4) drug education and awareness; (5) family counseling; (6) practical skills training; (7) community-based network referrals; (8) education on parole; and (9) the development of individualized release plans. The evaluation of Project Greenlight involved dividing 735 inmates into 3 groups that were followed for at least 1 year following release: (1) 113 inmates released from prisons without any pre-release services; (2) 278 inmates who participated in the transitional services program already in existence at the facility; and (3) 334 inmates who received Project Greenlight programming. Table, notes

Date Published: June 1, 2007