In July 2007, the Employment and Training Administration awarded grants to five organizations to assist ex-offenders transition back into their communities under the Beneficiary Choice Contracting Program. The demonstration is based on the core premise that helping formerly incarcerated individuals find and maintain stable and legal employment will reduce recidivism and increase public safety. The cornerstone of the beneficiary choice approach is the participant’s choice of the service provider that best meets his/her needs. The demonstration includes the added element of performance-based contracting for those services.
This report, Giving Ex-Offenders a Choice in Life: First Findings from the Beneficiary Choice Demonstration, was prepared by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. Information included in the report was gathered during visits to each grantee community and after intense discussions at grantee conferences sponsored by the Department of Labor. The report includes a description of the grantees and the communities in which they operate; the grantees’ experiences in developing the programs; the characteristics of participants enrolled during the initial months of operation; and some of their early employment-related outcomes. Of particular interest, the report also includes a description of grantees’ initial efforts to ensure that participants have a truly independent choice of service providers. The early successes and ongoing challenges faced by the grantees when implementing the indirect funding approach through performance-based contracting are also identified in the report.