Client Work: Department of Juvenile Justice

For this assignment I was tasked with employing an ethnographic and netnographic approach to identifying drivers of success and barriers to job placement for youth ex-offenders.  Depth interviews were conducted with local businesses to understand the hiring practices from the firm’s perspective. Based on an analysis of the data collected, recommendations were produced for a vocational and education program supported by the state agency.

Full report: Here

Executive Summary:

Each year the United States Judicial System will release approximately 100,000 youth ex-offenders. These youth, aged 18 to 24, will face competitive job markets and a loss of access to higher-skilled jobs. Aside from the tight job market, the stigma many ex-offenders will face upon reentry will only add to the difficulty this population will face.

For youth ex-offenders the road will be tough. Many lack an education. Approximately one in five males have a high school degree. Most had little employment experience before incarceration. Finally, these youth ex-offenders have missed important developmental stages while behind bars. Due to the immediate barriers many youth ex-offenders face, many will enter communities with little social support causing a high-level of recidivism.

The research presented in this report details the drivers of success and barrier to job placement for youth ex-offenders. Through depth interviews with local firms, this report created a stronger understanding of the hiring practices and documented common themes that state agencies and programs must understand moving forward.

Three recommendations were reached based on this analysis. First, career development must be the primary focus and not just job placement. While securing a job is important, all three depth interviews produced views that career goals were highly valued during the interview process. Second, programs that are developed must re-train youth’s perception of learning and education. Education can be a way to empower youth and provide more opportunities than vocational training alone. Finally, cognitive-behavioral interventions must be employed to promote and develop pro-social behavior. Depending on the time spent incarcerated, youth often miss out on important developmental stages or regress in terms of exhibiting interpersonal skills. Understanding how to enter and manage different work cultures was stressed in each interview.

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