Disclaimer: This report uses data provided by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) in the interest of information exchange. The opinions, findings, and conclusions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not those of DCJS. Neither New York State nor DCJS assumes liability for its contents or use thereof.
This report contains an analysis of aggregated criminal history records for recent clients of “Agency B,” an affiliate of the Evidence Generation initiative of the Research & Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Criminal history searches are conducted in a “blinded” fashion — DCJS staff do not know the identity of the service delivery organization that submitted client information for computerized history searches, and all client identifiers are removed from the data before any criminal history information is analyzed by researchers and before any report of the analysis is returned to the submitting agency. This process ensures client confidentiality as required by written agreements between the Evidence Generation initiative, DCJS, and each agency affiliate.
Agency B serves justice-involved individuals age 16 and older in the New York City area. The agency’s programming aims to provide an alternative to incarceration, as well as supporting reentry from prison. In addition, the agency staff members work to increase educational attainment, develop career skills, and reduce recidivism for program participants. Program duration is typically six months. Agency B receives referrals from Court Advocacy Services and serves an average of 200 individuals per year.
New Justice Contacts
Agency B submitted the names of 216 former clients, all of whom left the program before 2011. These names were matched to criminal history records maintained by DCJS. The matching process identified a total of 1,596 arrest events among Agency B’s clients and within three years of program exit.
Of all 216 individuals in the database, 151 (70%) had at least one arrest following their exit from the program. Table 1 shows post-program arrests and convictions based on each client’s program completion status at Agency B — i.e. whether they exited the program before or after completing the program requirements successfully. Programming data from Agency B was used to place individuals into one of three completion categories: completed; not completed, or completion status unknown.
More than two-thirds of Agency B’s clients had at least one arrest during the three-year follow-up period. The percentage of former clients with at least one reported arrest was lower among those who completed programming (61%) than among those who did not (88%).
DCJS data showed that 37 percent of Agency B’s former clients had been convicted of a new offense within three years — 27 percent of those completing the program, versus 58 percent of those not completing the program. Non-completing participants were more likely than completing clients to have convictions for either felonies or misdemeanors.
Time to Arrest
The DCJS data were analyzed to examine the rate at which Agency B clients had new justice contacts (i.e. new arrests). Examining the three-year period beginning with program exit, the percentage of clients remaining arrest-free was compared by program completion status and offense classification. Figure 1 shows that the percentage of clients remaining arrest-free fell gradually after program exit. Figure 2 compares time to arrest for completing and non-completing clients, while misdemeanor and felony arrests for completing and non-completing participants are presented in Figure 3.
Analyses of client success by program completion status may or may not reflect causation. Such findings could be affected by a type of bias in selection and retention. The most compliant, pro-social clients may be more likely to complete the program and to avoid future arrests. Thus, any co-variation of program completion and recidivism is not necessarily a result of the program.