Giving Ex-Offenders a Choice in Life: First Findings from the Beneficiary Choice Demonstration

Publisher: Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research
Dec 19, 2008
Jeanne Bellotti, Michelle Derr, and Nora Paxton
In July 2007, the U.S. Department of Labor funded the Beneficiary Choice Contracting Program, a demonstration to help young, recently released ex-offenders successfully enter and remain in the workforce and stay free of crime. The program is being implemented by grantees in five locations: Phoenix, Denver, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Des Moines. The model involves three unique components: (1) emphasis on participant choice of service providers, (2) expansion of the service delivery network to include faith-based and community organizations that offer a range of secular and faith-infused services, and (3) use of performance-based contracting to motivate providers to achieve key outcomes. This report describes early implementation experiences. The analysis relies on qualitative data collected during the first round of site visits, a survey of grantees and their service providers, and data from the demonstration’s management information system. As of August 2008, the five grantees had enrolled 763 participants across their 30 specialized service providers. Although the demonstration was still in its infancy at the time of the site visits, many interesting patterns had already emerged as sites entered uncharted territory by combining the indirect funding mechanism of customer choice with use of performance-based contracting.