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Improving Employment Outcomes for the Federal Bureau of Prisons' Returning Citizens

NCJ Number
Date Published
36 pages

This publication discusses the findings of a virtual workshop on improving employment outcomes among Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) releases.


 To explore challenges and opportunities associated with improving employment outcomes among Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) releasees, the National Institute of Justice hosted a virtual workshop supported by the RAND Corporation, in partnership with the University of Denver. This report summarizes discussion points from the workshop and presents a wide-ranging set of needs identified by workshop participants. Employment outcomes would be improved through sustained leadership focus on and commitment to an organizational culture that better supports incarcerated individuals and addresses their vocational and educational needs. Key findings include the following: embracing technology and bringing in more external partners are important for providing support and can be done safely with proper controls; preparing incarcerated individuals for employment on release should start as early as possible during incarceration; most incarcerated individuals are transitioned to contracted residential reentry centers (RRCs) prior to release from BOP custody, and employment outcomes could improve with greater RRC capacity overall, as well as more RRCs in closer proximity to communities that individuals are returning to; there is a need to leverage community-based organizations to help individuals better manage the difficult transition back to society; the BOP typically does not track people once they leave BOP custody, and gathering the data necessary to truly evaluate the effectiveness of employment programs is a challenge; the BOP is encouraged to track granular data on releasees' employment outcomes to help the agency gain insight into which programs are correlated to successful outcomes and inform program planning; second-chance employers are encouraged to share their success stories with their peers and to share data on employment outcomes to help demonstrate the value of tapping into this pool of talent.

Date Published: January 1, 2023