Jobs Don’t Prevent New Drug Offenses After Prison

The article “Study: Jobs Don’t Prevent New Drug Offenses After Prison” is somewhat misleading and does not mention our most important findings. The former prisoners in our study were followed for only a few months after coming home to Baltimore, insufficient time to conclude that employment doesn’t prevent recidivism. Our more important, policy-relevant findings have to do with how released prisoners obtain jobs and stay off drugs.

The study documented that men and women who participated in work release programs while in prison were more likely to be employed after their release — despite poor job records, limited education, and few vocational skills — suggesting that much can be done to improve their employment prospects.

We also learned that those who made use of in-prison substance abuse treatment were less likely to take drugs after returning to Baltimore. In addition, former prisoners who received valuable housing, financial assistance, and emotional support from their families were more likely to get a job and stay off drugs.

The report’s implications are clear: expanding employment, substance abuse, and family reunification programs, both behind the prison walls and in the community, can make a difference. We encourage readers to view the full report, Baltimore Prisoners’ Experiences Returning Home.

Source: Nancy G. La Vigne, Ph.D., is a Senior Research Associate at the Urban Institute.

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