Why a Job is Not Enough: Addressing Employment Needs of People with Criminal Records Holistically

Nancy G. La Vigne

Ask any collection of criminal justice practitioners what the secret to successful reentry is and odds are that the vast majority will answer with certainty: a job. If it were that straightforward, recidivism rates wouldn’t be nearly as high as they are. Research evidence points to a more complex and nuanced approach to reentry preparation, supervision, and program provision, focusing on the specific characteristics, risks, needs, and assets of each individual. This presentation addresses what’s known about what works in successful reentry, the role that employment plays in the reintegration process, and how practitioners and policymakers can best invest in efforts to reduce reoffending among people with criminal records in the interests of their personal well-being as well as that of their families and communities.

Nancy G. La Vigne

Nancy G. La Vigne, PhD, LICDC, MSW, MDs, is the Director of the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute. She publishes research on prisoner reentry, criminal justice technologies, crime prevention, policing, and the spatial analysis of crime and criminal behavior. Her work appears in scholarly journals and practitioner publications and has made her a sought-after spokesperson on related subjects.

Before being appointed director, La Vigne was a senior research associate at Urban, directing groundbreaking research on prisoner reentry. Before joining Urban, La Vigne was founding director of the Crime Mapping Research Center at the National Institute of Justice. She later was special assistant to the assistant attorney general for the Office of Justice Programs within the US Department of Justice. She has also been research director for the Texas sentencing commission, research fellow at the Police Executive Research Forum, and consultant to the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. La Vigne was executive director for the bipartisan Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections Reform. She chairs the board of the Crime and Justice Research Alliance and serves on the board for the Consortium of Social Science Associations. She testifies before Congress on prisoner reentry and criminal justice reform and has been featured on NPR and in the Atlantic, New York Times, Washington Post, and Chicago Tribune. La Vigne holds a BA in government and economics from Smith College, an MA in public affairs from the LBJ School at the University of Texas at Austin, and a PhD in criminal justice from Rutgers University.

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