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Evaluating the 2009 Second Chance Act Programs

T9738B A bearded volunteer helps a released prisoner with food and support from a van parked outside a county jail at night in Santa Ana, CA.
NORC evaluates the impact of programs that support the formerly incarcerated
  • Funder
    National Institute of Justice
  • Dates
    January 2010 - December 2017

Funded by the National Institute of Justice, this project evaluated the 2009 Second Chance Act programs, which was meant to facilitate the successful re-entry of prisoners to their communities. The programs included strategies to reduce recidivism and subsequent criminal behavior, enhance employment and earnings, facilitate retraining, stabilize housing, and reduce substance abuse. To provide rigorous evidence on the impact of these programs, NORC and its partners conducted a random assignment evaluation in which all prisoners interested in receiving services from six selected Second Chance grantees were randomly assigned either to the program group or the control group. By using random assignment, the evaluation created two equivalent groups. Comparing the outcomes for these groups provided an unbiased estimate of the impact of the Second Chance programs. 

As a subcontractor to Social Policy Research Associates (SPRA), NORC at the University of Chicago collected follow-up interview data on program participants and controls beginning 18 months from the program’s start. NORC assisted with instrument development and supervised a team to locate, contact, and interview this hard-to-reach population. Data collection was completed by phone and in-person.

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