Panel Paper: Key Findings from the Impact Evaluation of the Second Chance Act Adult Demonstration Program

Saturday, November 10, 2018
8226 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Ronald D’Amico and Christian Geckeler, Social Policy Research Associates

This presentation describes the findings from an evaluation of re-entry programs developed by seven grantees that were awarded funds, by the U.S. Department of Justice, under the Second Chance Act (SCA) Adult Demonstration Program. These grantees, comprised of state departments of corrections, social service, and other local government agencies, provided pre- and post-release services to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals with the goal of reducing recidivism by helping them better reintegrate into their communities upon release. The SCA program and this evaluation were designed to test re-entry strategies for responding to the large number of individuals being released from incarceration and their high rates of recidivism.

The focal point of the evaluation was a randomized control trial, whereby 966 individuals eligible for SCA were randomly assigned to either a program group, whose members could participate in individualized SCA services, or a control group whose members could receive all re-entry services otherwise available but not individualized SCA services. Data for the evaluation came from qualitative data gathered on site visits with grantees, a survey of study participants, and administrative data, collected from various federal, state and local agencies.

With regards to the implementation study, the presentation will explain how SCA grant funds were used to expand the grantees’ capacity for re-entry services, including giving a description of the pre- and post-release service elements grantees provided to SCA participants. It will also cover the challenges and successes grantees encountered in implementing their programs, including the ways in which they staffed the program using individuals from different organizational backgrounds or the ways in which grantees brought together partners with different perspectives and organizational cultures to work with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals.

With regards to the randomized control trial, the presentation will include a discussion of the impacts the program had on service receipt and the overall level of unmet participant need at 18 months after random assignment. It will also include impact study findings on recidivism (re-arrest, reconvictions and re-incarcerations in both jail and prison), and employment and earnings at both 18 and 30 months. Finally, the presentation will include a discussion of how the implementation study findings and other factors may have influenced the observed impacts, and what these findings suggest about designing more effective re-entry programs (and evaluations of these programs) to yield even better information on re-entry programs in the future.