182017 Considerations of Employing Ex-Offenders to Prevent Violence

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Elena Quintana, PhD , The Chicago Project for Violence Prevention, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Jalon Arthur , The Chicago Project for Violence Prevention, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Tim Metzger, MUPP , University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Tio Hardiman, MA , Chicago Project for Violence Prevention, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Gary Slutkin, MD , University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
CeaseFire is an initiative that focuses on stopping shootings and killings. In order to effectively prevent violence, CeaseFire hires and works with a large number of ex-offenders. These individuals are uniquely positioned to identify and engage clients in their own communities. Discrepancies between the skills that enable outreach staff to work on the streets with potentially uncompromising individuals, and acculturating to fulfill expectations within a more traditional work setting makes negotiating these two worlds especially challenging. Concurrently, they are held to rigorous documentation, ethical and professional expectations. This includes individual, and group supervision that stress group interdependence and recognition of warning signs that co-workers may be getting sucked back into the streets.

In 2006 and 2007, CeaseFire employed 114 outreach workers in 25 communities in Illinois. 85 of these individuals were hired after serving time in prison. Most of the outreach workers hired had been out of prison for a year or more before being hired. One Illinois study (IDOC & BI, Inc, May 2002) found that at least 2 in 5 ex-felons return to prison within 3 years. Given the number of returning offenders we employed (75%) of our total staff, we found it important to implement a supportive system of supervision. Self-report, staff interviews, and a review of the IDOC database shows that of 114 staff, 85 who were ex-offenders, 4 have re-offended, 1 who had not served prison time offended. This paper highlights the work CeaseFire has done to navigate these two worlds through training and supervision.

Learning Objectives:
1) Discuss ways to avoid recidivism in employing ex-offenders to do community street intervention work 2) Create and implement supervision based on best practices to improve efficiency and success of street level violence prevention work 3) Provide pathway to professionalization for non-traditional staff

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked on developing and implementing the training for the workers
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.