Employment and Housing

Best and Promising Practices in Integrating Reentry and Employment Interventions:  National Reentry Resource Center, July 2018. This webinar is based on lessons learned from integrating reentry and employment interventions to help people returning home after incarceration find and keep employment. The presentation is especially useful for those interested in maximizing scarce resources and improving recidivism and employment outcomes.

Bishop, Catherine. An Affordable Home on Re-Entry: Federally Assisted Housing and Previously Incarcerated Individuals. Oakland, CA: National Housing Law Project, 2008.

“This guide is designed for advocates working with or representing individuals with a criminal record who are seeking access to federally assisted housing programs” (p. 1). Chapters include: the problem — the number of individuals who have been incarcerated is increasing and many need affordable housing; eligibility for federally assisted housing for individuals who have been released from incarceration; access to criminal history records, drug rehabilitation information, and expungement of criminal records; mitigating circumstances and rehabilitation; challenging a denial of admission; advocating for policies that respond to the housing needs of individuals with a criminal record; vouchers, portability, and ex-offenders; adding an ex-offender to the assisted household and rechecking current residents; description of federally assisted housing programs for lower income families; and general eligibility requirements for federally assisted low-income housing.


Building Tomorrow’s Workforce: An Effective Reentry Strategy [Satellite/Internet Broadcast].

Aurora, CO: National Institute of Corrections Academy, 2008. This 3-hour program, originally broadcast August 2008, focused on the history and benefits of correctional industries and ways to balance competing interests. Employment is a critical factor in successful reentry. Career assistance, life skills, and job training prior to release from jails or prisons increases the likelihood of success as individuals reenter the community. This, in conjunction with support from employers, social agencies, and faith-based community organizations, provides the foundation for individuals to remain in society and contribute to the community as productive citizens. At the end of this broadcast, participants will understand the: benefits of correctional industries and workforce development; social and economic values of correctional industries; need to strike a balance between competing interests; relationships among workforce development, community organizations, and correctional industries; relationship between evidence-based practices and offender employment; and workforce development competencies and available training resources.

Carter, Francina. Get the Facts: Dispelling the Myths about Ex-Offenders. Washington DC: National Association of Workforce Development Professionals, 2012.

“Regardless of your workplace setting, you will probably encounter someone with a criminal record. Workforce development professionals need the facts about strategies and services that help to reduce the barriers to employment and support services faced by their clients with criminal records … [One] will learn: 1. What the federal policy actually restricts; 2. Where to find resources and fact sheets that will help explain the rights of ex-offenders; 3. Strategies for working with local officials to address unnecessary barriers that inhibit individuals from gaining employment; [and] 4. Ideas for framing the conversation with employers.”


Correctional Industries: A Working Solution [Satellite/Internet Broadcast]. Washington, DC: National

Institute of Corrections, 2011. Correctional Industry programs contribute to the successful reentry of offenders by providing a structured environment for participants to learn the skills needed to obtain and retain post-release employment. Guided by evidence-based practices, Correctional Industries distinguishes itself by providing services that make an impact in reducing inmate recidivism. See how they make a significant difference in the lives of the offender population they serve and hear from national experts, correctional practitioners, and former offenders about the promising and evidenced-practices that impact recidivism. At the conclusion of this program broadcast on October 5, 2011, participants will be able to: describe the evolution of Correctional Industries from “producing quality products” to “developing individuals who produce quality products”; explain how the incorporation of evidence-based practices helps improve program outcomes; identify how Correctional Industries provides offenders with the skills they need to successfully obtain and retain post-release employment; and identify evidence-based training opportunities that promote professional growth and development.


Cortes, Katherine, and Shawn Rogers. Reentry Housing Options: The Policymakers’ Guide. New York: Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2010.

This guide is for those people wanting to reduce the recidivism of offenders returning to the community by offering plenty of affordable housing. Sections of this report include: introduction; the unmet demand for affordable housing; reentry housing options charts; three approaches to increasing housing capacity for the reentry population; housing terms; laying the groundwork for increasing reentry housing capacity; greater access; increased housing stock; revitalized neighborhoods; and conclusion.


Emsellem, Maurice, and Madeline Neighly. Cities Pave the Way: Promising Reentry Policies that Promote Local Hiring of People with Criminal Records. Washington, DC: National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education and Families, 2010.

Individuals involved with helping ex-offenders find employment after their release from incarceration will find this guide very interesting. It “assembles the most promising local policies that promote the hiring of people with criminal records” (p.1). Seven parts are contained in this publication: introduction; the basics, the city hiring process; three steps to a model city hiring policy; leverage development funds to target jobs for people with criminal records; expanding bid incentive programs to promote local hiring priorities; financial incentives for private employers to create jobs for people with criminal records; and conclusion.


Enhancing Rural Reentry through Housing Partnerships: A Handbook for Community Corrections

Agencies in Rural Areas. New York: Family Justice, 2009. This handbook “discuss[es] potentially beneficial partnerships that community corrections departments can cultivate to fully tap resources and expertise . . . [and] also suggests various strategies to increase housing options for people coming home from jail and prison — and for their families” (p. 5). Sections contained in this document include: introduction; defining rural; high-need rural areas; affordable housing challenges in rural areas; rural homelessness; rural reentry issues; housing and reentry — an overview; strategies for engaging families; potential strategies for community corrections; the role of corrections agencies; case studies; and relevant laws and policies.


An Evaluation of the Prisoner Reentry Initiative: Final Report. St. Paul: Minnesota Department of Corrections, 2011.

The impact of Minnesota’s Prisoner Reentry Initiative (PRI) on post-release employment and recidivism are evaluated. Two case assistant/reentry coordinators were place within the criminal justice system, not outside it, in order to better facilitate interagency connections between facility and community-based staff. This report is necessary reading for agencies thinking of implementing a similar offender employment system. Sections of this report include an executive summary, a description of PRI, data and methods, results, and conclusion. While recidivism rates for PRI participants were not much lower than the comparison group, PRI “participation significantly reduced the chances of finding post-release employment and that participants worked significantly fewer hours and had significantly less total earnings” (p. 5).


First Policy Paper Series on Issues Affecting the Employment of Former Offenders in Illinois: Four Papers. Chicago, IL: Safer Foundation, 2002.

Four policy papers examining the systemic barriers to ex-offender employment are presented. Papers include: “The Need for Public Policy Advocacy to Reduce Barriers to Employment for Ex-Offenders” by Sharron D. Matthews; “Reducing Barriers to Employment for Women Ex-Offenders: Mapping the Road to Reintegration” by Patricia O’Brien; “Government Personnel Policies Impacting the Hiring of Ex-Offenders” by Matthews and Amanda Casarjian; and “A Review of the State of Illinois Professional and Occupational Offender Reentry Annotated Bibliography Page 34

Licensure Policies as Related to Access to Employment for Ex-Offenders” by Matthews, Ray Auclaire, and Amanda Casarjian.


Fontaine, Jocelyn, and Jennifer Biess. Housing as a Platform for Formerly Incarcerated Persons. Washington, DC: Urban Institute, 2012.

People who deal with offender reentry should read this. “Against the backdrop of the reentry challenges, this paper discusses how housing can be a platform or pathway toward more successful reentry and reintegration for formerly incarcerated persons. While housing for formerly incarcerated persons is a source of necessary shelter and residential stability, it can also serve as the literal and figurative foundation for successful reentry and reintegration for released adults” (p. 1). Sections of this publication include: introduction; overview of reentry challenges; housing as a complex reentry challenge; housing options and barriers; housing as a platform of formerly incarcerated individuals; the pathways model; potential plan for future analysis; and conclusion.


Goldfarb and Lipman. Between the Lines: A Question & Answer Guide on Legal Issues in Supportive Housing: 2010 National Edition. Oakland, CACorporation for Supportive Housing, 2010.

Individuals assisting ex-offenders in finding housing should be familiar with this publication. Chapters include: why read this guide; legal overview—how the law is organized and fair housing laws; serving designated populations—introduction, reserving housing for people with disabilities, economic discrimination, projects serving homeless people, and discrimination based on source of income, and restricting housing to other groups; selection of individual tenants—screening and intake and reasonable accommodations and reasonable modifications; operation and management of housing–accommodation and modification during occupancy, providing services to tenants, clean and sober requirements, and other management issues; and zoning and land use. Appendixes provide a look at federal and state fair housing laws.


In Our Backyard: Overcoming Community Resistance To Reentry Housing (A NIMBY Toolkit). Long Island City, NY: Fortune Society, 2011.

The development of a housing project in West Harlem for formerly incarcerated people is described. Organizations trying to find ways to house recently released inmates in the community should read this publication. Sections of this toolkit in addition to a summary include: the reentry crisis; a case study of the Fortune Academy project; what the Fortune Academy story tells us; and best practices for gaining community support—applying lessons learned to your organization.


Innovative Reentry Strategies: The Emerging Role of Correctional Industries [Satellite/Internet Broadcast]. Washington, DC: National Institute of Corrections, 2009.

This 3-hour program, originally broadcast October 7, 2009, is part 2 of the National Institute of Corrections series on correctional industries and is entitled “Innovative Reentry Strategies: The Emerging Role of Correctional Industries.” Part 1, which aired in August 2008, focused on the history and benefits of correctional industries and ways to balance competing interests. The October 2009 program will focus on presenting new reentry strategies and highlight specific programs around the country that reflect best practices. Imagine a reentry program that reduces recidivism, changes lives, and makes prisons and jails safer with little or no cost to taxpayers. Such a program has been around for decades. It is correctional industries, an effective model for preparing offenders for employment upon release. The elements of this strategy include skills certification, positive change, collaboration with businesses and the community, and a focus on career development and job retention.


Latessa, Edward. “Why Work is Important, and How to Improve the Effectiveness of Correctional Reentry Programs that Target Employment.” Criminology & Public Policy 11, no. 1. (2012): 87-91.

Latessa discusses the importance of employment and the effectiveness of correctional reentry programs that target employment. First, work and employment is important for reentry and they should not ignore it simply because most studies have not shown employment programs to reduce recidivism. Second, the nature of risk factors is more complex than simply categorizing them into static and dynamic. There are different types of dynamic factors, and they can see this clearly when looking at employment. Third, if they truly want to incorporate employment into effective correctional programs, they need to employ techniques and approaches that have been found to be effective in changing behavior.


MacDonald, Stephen, and Carl Nink. Industry Recognized Certification: A Pathway to Reentry. Centerville UT: MTC Institute, 2011.

The use of industry-based certification to increase the likelihood that ex-offenders will succeed in finding jobs is explained. Certification plays a vital role because the “reentry success of inmates requires that they develop skills consistent with industry standards and that they obtain recognized and marketable certification, which employers often use as one important criterion for hiring” (p. 1). Sections compiling this publication are: introduction; need for skilled labor; need for certification; certifications for corrections; available certifications; possible certifications; conclusion; certifying organizations; employment opportunities and median wage; what a Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) is; and Internet use in prisons (limited, secure, and virtual).


Offender Employment Retention: Worth the Work [Satellite/Internet Broadcast]. Aurora, CO: National Institute of Corrections Academy, 2011.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 700,000 individuals are released from prisons yearly—with an additional 9 million adults cycling through local jails. Research indicates that employment is an important component of successful reentry, but most offender programs do not address the complex behavioral health issues that impact the offender’s ability to obtain and retain gainful employment while remaining crime free. Offender programming should target individuals at high risk for recidivism, address the dynamic influences that predict crime, and provide interventions specific to the needs of offenders. During this national discussion sponsored and broadcast by the National Institute of Corrections on November 2, 2011, participants will explore evidence-based practices that increase public safety while helping to reduce recidivism. At the conclusion of this broadcast, participants will be able to: define and describe an offender retention model; identify strategies, resources, and partnerships that improve retention outcomes; describe a process for developing effective offender services/programming; and identify collaborative partnerships that support increased public safety and effective reentry programs.




Pettway, Coretta. Best Practices Tool-Kit: Employing Ex-Offenders after Release from Prison. London, OH: Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, 2007.

Promising practices for adult offender job training and retention programming are described. Topics discussed include: implementing programs and services; and exemplary programs — Safer Foundation, Ready4Work, Center for Employment Opportunities’ Comprehensive Prison Reentry Program, and Project Re-Integration of Ex-Offenders (RIO).

Training and Employment Guidance Letter No.31-11

The purpose of this Training and Employment Guidance Letter (TEGL), released jointly by the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration and the Civil Rights Center, is to provide clarity for the public workforce system about how federal anti discrimination laws relate to employment exclusions based on criminal records.

Women and Work: Gender Responsivity and Workforce Development [Satellite/Internet Broadcast]. Aurora, CO: National Institute of Corrections Academy, 2008.

This 2-day training program, originally broadcast September 24-25, 2008, will enable participants to: introduce emerging evidence-based gender responsive practices; present information strategies and case management models; introduce career theories and assessment tools; discuss collaborative relationships that support effective reentry; provide answers for the questions asked by women returning to the workforce; discuss how a history of criminal convictions impacts job search efforts; and discuss and present available resources and training options.


Yahner, Jennifer, and Janine M. Zweig. Which Components of Transitional Jobs Programs Work Best? Analysis of Programs for Former Prisoners in the Transitional Jobs Reentry Demonstration. Washington, DC: Urban Institute, 2012

An evaluation of the Transitional Jobs Reentry Demonstration (TJRD) was implemented in order to discover which components of the TJRD positively impact outcomes. Results are provided for TJ (transitional job) program components associated with employment outcomes and with recidivism outcomes, which seemed to work best, whether effects vary across offender subgroups, and how many days in a TJ are best. “Overall, we observed a pattern of findings indicating that one TJ program component in particular was significantly associated with higher levels of subsequent unsubsidized employment among TJ program participants. That component measured the length of time that participants spent working in a transitional job” (p. 12).

In this report, we provide the first estimate of homelessness among the 5 million formerly incarcerated people living in the United States, finding that formerly incarcerated people are almost 10 times more likely to be homeless than the general public. Read the report which concludes with policy recommendations.

Best and Promising Practices in Integrating Reentry and Employment Interventions  webinar  This webinar is based on lessons learned from integrating reentry and employment interventions to help people returning home after incarceration find and keep employment.  A pdf of the presentation is available on the website.