Bridging Workforce Development and Corrections Cultures

Issue Brief: Early Lessons from LEAP
Publisher: Princeton, NJ, and Oakland, CA: Mathematica Policy Research and Social Policy Research Associates
Nov 02, 2016
Authors
Heather Lewis-Charp

Key Findings:

  • Bridging the different organizational cultures of workforce development and correctional systems required ongoing communication and support between key leaders and staff members from both systems. 
  • Although developing a jail-based American Job Center (AJC) requires adjustment by both workforce development and jail partners, the level of accommodation and acculturation was generally higher for workforce staff who viewed themselves as “guests” who needed to conform to jail guidelines and rules. 
  • Formal staff trainings and co-location of workforce staff at the jail during the planning phase helped to strengthen the jail-based AJCs and acclimate workforce staff into jail culture and norms.
The creation of specialized American Job Centers (AJCs) in jails requires that workforce development agencies and corrections agencies learn about and adjust to each other’s organizational cultures, including priorities, rules, assumptions, and decision-making processes. Although 16 of the 20 local workforce investment boards that received Linking to Employment Activities Pre-release (LEAP) grants had previously provided post-release services to transitioning offenders, only four had prior experience with providing pre-release services in jails. This brief draws on data from visits to all 20 LEAP sites and focuses on the strategies the grantees used during the early planning and implementation period to build common ground between jail and workforce staff in promoting successful reentry for participants.