Vera's Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit worked with MDRC to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the Center for Employment Opportunities, an independent program launched by the Vera Institute that provides employment services to people with criminal records.

The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) is one of the largest and best-known employment programs for the formerly incarcerated. It is one of four sites in the Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ Demonstration and Evaluation Project, funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Labor. MDRC conducted a random-assignment evaluation of the program and found that it achieves a significant reduction in recidivism rates and a small improvement in several employment outcomes. The Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit drew on these evaluation results to determine whether benefits from lower recidivism rates and higher employment rates outweigh the costs of CEO.

Why This Project Matters

At a time when two-thirds of people released from prison are re-arrested and half are re-incarcerated within three years, investing in proven reentry programs can enhance public safetyand cut costs. Yet there are few studies to help policymakers identify and support cost-effective reentry programs. Vera’s analysis has helped fill this gap, providing information about the relative costs and benefits of an employment program for formerly incarcerated people.


For more information about cost-benefit analysis, contact Tina Chiu.

More Than a Job: Final Results from the Evaluation of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) Transitional Jobs Program
This report, published by MDRC, presents the final results of an evaluation of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), a New York City-based employment program for formerly incarcerated people. A Vera spin-off, CEO provides temporary jobs and other services to improve participants’ prospects...