I survived random assignment
I attended an amazing conference on employment and criminal records yesterday and could blog at length about several of the papers. My favorite moment, however, came in a discussion with Mindy Tarlow, the CEO of CEO -- New York's Center for Employment Opportunities.
Ms. Tarlow has been providing employment services for recent prison releasees at CEO for about 15 years. As the Times reported last year, They do job readiness training, transitional employment, job placement, and retention. The transitional jobs are especially important for new releasees -- they can be on the job site just days after incarceration and they get a paycheck at the end of each day to address their pressing financial needs.
I've long appreciated the program's approach, but hadn't seen what I'd consider really solid evidence on its effectiveness until yesterday. CEO now has 2 years of data from an independent randomized evaluation by MDRC -- and they're showing significant treatment-control differences in new confictions and incarceration.
When I remarked that it takes real guts for an agency to voluntarily subject itself to rigorous assessment, Mindy said, "I know. MDRC gave me this button that says I survived random assignment."