Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Kemp, K., Savitz, B., Thompson, W., & Zanis, D.A. (2004). Developing employment services for criminal justice clients enrolled in drug use treatment programs. Substance Use and Misuse, 39 (13), 2491-2511.
Title:  Developing employment services for criminal justice clients enrolled in drug use treatment programs
Authors:  Kemp, K., Savitz, B., Thompson, W., & Zanis, D.A.
Year:  2004
Journal/Publication:  Substance Use and Misuse
Publisher:  Informa Healthcare
Full text:   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  No
Research design:  Quasi-experimental

Structured abstract:

Background:  Employment is a critical issue in assisting parolees in reintegrating into their communities. However, parole departments are not typically structured to provide employment services. In addition, parolees often have inadequate work histories or skills to obtain quality employment. Alcohol and drug use and misuse can complicate employment pursuits further. Substance abuse is highly prevalent among offenders, and the research suggests that a substantial majority use illicit drugs.
Purpose:  The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of four vocational approaches on employment outcomes. The four approaches included (1) job skill development and supported employment, (2) life skill development, (3) job training, and (4) welfare-to-work.
Setting:  The study was conducted in multiple licensed substance abuse treatment centers in the city of Philadelphia, PA.
Study sample:  The study sample consisted of 245 formerly incarcerated individuals receiving substance abuse treatment. No other details of the sample are provided.
Intervention:  Job Skill Development and Supported Employment intervention was a six-month program to introduce participants with limited employment experience to the culture of work. Participants were engaged in a six hour per day work training program, followed by a 20 hours per week of supported employment for a maximum of six months. At the completion of the supported employment phase, participants were assisted in locating competitive employment. Life skill development consisted of a six- to nine-month instructional program targeted toward a specific vocational goal. Participants entered into non-paid internships and then were assisted in locating paid employment in that field. The Job Training Program was an intensive six-week Environmental Technician training program leading to certification or licensing in one of several job classifications, such as Hazardous Materials Handler, Lead Removal, etc. Completion of the program was followed by job placement assistance. The Welfare-to-Work Program was developed specifically for women receiving welfare assistance and consisted of substance abuse treatment, educational opportunities, and job training assistance.
Control or comparison condition:  There were no separate control or comparison groups. Individuals served as their own controls.
Data collection and analysis:  Programmatic records were reviewed for each of the four interventions for program completion and employment outcomes. In addition, a 12-month follow-up was conducted of 36 consecutive admissions to the Job Skills Development and Supported Employment Program.
Findings:  Of the 245 clients, 191 (77.9%) completed their respective program and 134 (54.6%) secured external competitive employment. Sixty percent of those employed following completion of the Job Skills Development and Supported Employment Program received health benefits, and 100% of those who were employed following completion of Job Training had health benefits. The 12-month follow-up found that 50% of the sample had completed the program and 25% were employed at the time of contact. Parole violations or re-incarcerations were reported for 32% of the sample. Employment rates were significantly higher for those who completed the program.
Conclusions:  The four projects show promise for formerly incarcerated clients receiving substance abuse treatment. However, the lack of a consistent funding stream to maintain vocational services is an impediment for expanding services to all offenders. The short duration of various grants limited opportunities to develop a comprehensive system.

Disabilities served:  Alcohol and drug abuse
Populations served:  Other
Interventions:  Career counseling
Job coach
Job search and placement assistance
On-the-job training and support
Non-psychological counseling
Supported employment
Training and technical assistance
Vocational assessment
Outcomes:  Employment acquisition