Why Recidivism Rates are Dropping

Why Recidivism Rates are Dropping

Why Recidivism Rates are Dropping

In Georgia there has been a reduction in the rate of ex-offenders returning to prison. In the most recent report from the Georgia Department of Corrections, 25.3 percent of those released from all facilities (private, state, inmate boot camps, county, transition centers) in state FY 2018 were reconvicted for a felony after three years. That number dropped from 27.7 percent previously.  In the last few years, the growing number of ex-offenders returning to a life in prison has become a more widely recognized issue among policymakers and organizations. We believe the percentage is slowly dropping due to the Second Chance program, and organizations like GCO working to help ex-offenders find stable employment, and the elimination of policy barriers that keep this population from working. 

Even so, recidivism rates are still too high. Each number—each piece of data—is a person seeking direction and purpose to succeed and be self-sustaining. Not to mention, in a time when federal spending is high and inflation is growing, recidivism is a very costly issue for taxpayers. 

It’s a common misconception government assistance programs fill the gap for this population as they reenter society. The key to mitigating the usage of assistance programs and aid in breaking the cycle of poverty and crime for many is stable employment. This might sound elementary at first, but as we move deeper into this idea you’ll see it is common sense.  

The Success Sequence provides an outline of how to reverse the cycle of poverty in our communities. GCO uses this as a framework for much of our work.


  1. Jobs provide financial support

We all have bills to pay. A job provides a paycheck. However, let’s not get lost in the dollar signs. A job is more than a paycheck, too. A job is long-term financial security. Having a job allows people to plan for the future and set new life goals, essentially helping to define a person’s purpose. In a 2000 study by Christopher Uggen titled “Work as a Turning Point in the Life Course of Criminals: A Duration Model of Age, Employment, and Recidivism,” he found those over the age of 27 with a job were less likely to return to criminal activity. 

  1. Jobs provide purpose

Plain and simple, we all have the inherent need to be needed. Work allows each one of us to use our talents and gifts for positive impact. Fulfilling work allows us to play a part in a community, whether that is a community of coworkers or the actual community we live in. Every job, no matter how big or how small, has intrinsic value. A job helps us to develop daily structure, meet goals, and take our place within society. It’s not easy to go from being told when to eat and sleep to freedom. Jobs help create boundaries and play a part to keep our daily activities moving forward in a positive direction. 

In 2005, a study called  “Ex-Offender Employment Programs and Recidivism: A Meta-Analysis” found “having a legitimate job lessens the chances of reoffending following release from prison and that recidivism is less likely among those with higher wages and higher quality jobs.”

When people have a sense of purpose, they become more committed, responsible, creative thinkers. They become healthier and more passionate about serving in a way that helps others. 


  1. Jobs provide dignity

People generally obtain a large portion of their self-worth from their work. At the end of the day, no matter who we are we want to be treated with respect and equality. These are usually derived from our place of employment.

Without a job people are economically vulnerable to the cost of living and the economy’s fluctuation. Having a job and a sense of self-worth also helps reduce mental health issues among those who have spent time incarcerated. 

Those who end up in U.S. prisons are perhaps among the lowest skilled adults in society, and have a number of personal problems (health and behavioral) that render many of them difficult to employ.” 

Relationships with coworkers often provide the social structure and friendships needed for people to ease back into society and reduce the feeling of isolation.Through employment former inmates are able to receive the mental health and medical health support needed to integrate back into society in a dignified way. 


Wrapping up

GCO has dedicated much of its time and manpower to working with policymakers to reduce the barriers formerly incarcerated people face when looking for employment. To learn more about what we’re doing click here



Taking it to the Next Level

Taking it to the Next Level

Taking it to the Next Level

 It was a rainy Thursday night in Georgia, but that didn’t stop couples from gathering for a night of food and fun, and strengthening couples and marriages in their relationships.  #ElevateCouples Pop-up Event was hosted by GCO’s Family team (formerly Healthy Families Initiative) as a time to emphasize the importance of romantic relationships and keeping them thriving. Over a meal, couples were engaged in a course appetizer for the Elevate: Taking Your Relationship To The Next Level! Workshop. 

Elevate is offered to Georgia couples free of charge (as part of a partnership with University of Georgia and Project F.R.E.E.) as a time to invest in their marriage and relationships. The course is an eight week commitment from couples to discover ways to elevate their relationship to the next level. The course is offered in-person and virtually, and during this time couples are not in counseling, but lead through exercises to learn how to manage stress inside and outside of their relationship, conflict resolution, dealing with differences, and most importantly finding ways to connect to each other. It’s designed for couples of all ages (18 years old and up) who are in committed relationships and/or married. 

The pop-up event allowed couples a VIP look at what the course has to offer and how they can benefit from it both emotionally and physically. The group was able to hear one of the facilitators talk about highlights of the program and the best part of the course which is seeing couples grow. It didn’t stop there; attendees also watched a recorded testimony from previous workshop participants who explained the teachings of Elevate, and how it had a ripple effect in their family. What they learned went beyond their own marriage, but allowed for a trickle down of knowledge and modeling behavior for their grandchildren to see an example of a healthy relationship. 

To learn more about how you and your honey can Elevate, click here





Better Work Access and Encourage Worker Freedoms

Better Work Access and Encourage Worker Freedoms

Better Work Access and Encourage Worker Freedoms

The Manhattan Institute recently released a report arguing that now is a key time to reform our nation’s safety-net system. The goal should be not to offer more income guarantees but to minimize downside risk so that workers are able to move up the economic ladder. The report comes on the heels of new data from the U.S. government showing that inflation continued to run hot in August—the consumer price index rose 5.3% from a year before.

The Georgia Center for Opportunity’s (GCO) take: “The pandemic only heightened our awareness of existing issues, but the issues existed long before the pandemic,” said Erik Randolph, GCO’s director of research. “As such, we can’t let quick-fix solutions based on the current scenario be our only response. We do not need a stop-the-bleeding plan but systemic change that addresses long-standing issues.Policy prescriptions like simply raising the minimum wage ignore the main issue—wages not keeping up with inflation.


The need for changes that promote worker freedom and a sense of security that comes in work will drive markets and empower the actions of individuals. We should promote policies that open accessibility to better work access and encourage worker freedoms. We do this by creating a vibrant market where employers incentivize and compete for workers.”


Erik - statement

Q&A with Hire Dynamics on challenges of hiring in 2021

Q&A with Hire Dynamics on challenges of hiring in 2021

Q&A with Hire Dynamics on challenges of hiring in 2021


April’s nonfarm payroll numbers came in at 266,000, well below the 1 million people forecasters estimated would be hired that month. 

The low number wasn’t because there were a lack of jobs. There were 8.1 million open positions at the end of March. And it wasn’t due to a lack of people who need work. In April, there were 18.2 million people who received some form of federal unemployment assistance.

Hire Dynamics, a staffing and professional recruitment business that operates in the Atlanta area in addition to other locations across the U.S., has experienced the shortage of workers first hand. The following Q&A is an interview with Chuck Fallaw, regional manager for Hire Dynamics.

Q: Please explain what your business does / your focus

Hire Dynamics is a regional staffing agency headquartered in Atlanta GA. We focus on temp-to-hire staffing in the manufacturing, logistics/e-commerce, warehouse distribution, administrative, and call center verticals.

Q: What was hiring like prior to the pandemic?

Prior to the pandemic, we faced challenges with finding talent due to incredibly low unemployment. For example, in Nashville, TN where we had a 1.2% unemployment rate. Their pay rates were naturally rising due to the competition for talent. However, it was still much easier to fill positions than it has been over the last year and a half.

Q: How about during the pandemic?

Hiring during the pandemic was a unique challenge. Many of our clients are considered essential, so their need for talent never slowed down. Outside of true shutdowns, we were still able to fill some roles. That changed quite a bit in the last six months.



What we do matters.

  • Best of Staffing for Client & Talent Satisfaction by ClearlyRated – 11 years in a row:
  • Top 1% of more than 20,000 staffing companies
  • Continuously recognized as a Best Place to Work company throughout the Southeast
  • Superior client loyalty: client ratings 8 times higher and talent ratings 2.5 times higher than the industry average
  • Committed to and engaged with the communities we serve

Q: Right now, are you having trouble filling positions, and if so which ones?

Yes. All of them. Many of the manufacturers we work with are running around 50% of the workforce they typically employ. Obviously, this is tough on productivity, but it also leads to environments that are not as safe, elevated worker’s comp, and general morale issues among the employees. Light industrial staffing (at least in my region) has been the hardest hit. As I mentioned before, prior to the pandemic the economy was roaring, and talent was in demand. When the pandemic hit, those needs didn’t really go away, but the talent did.


Q: In what ways are you trying to recruit / attract employees in this environment?

Grassroots recruiting is very important right now. Getting in front of the talent and helping them get back into the workforce is a big part of what we are doing. We are doing drive-through job fairs, virtual job fairs, and massive recruiting events. In addition, we are coaching our clients on reducing barriers to entry, pay adjustments, and other ways to incentivize employees to come back.





In the first paper of our three-part series presenting a vision for systemic welfare reform in Georgia, we explore the need for a welfare system that starts with the assumption that natural support systems, including individual work and a reliance on family and community assistance, should be the primary sources of help when individuals face financial need. This report demonstrates how the current system does not meet these assumptions and points to the need for reform.


In the second paper of our three-part series presenting a vision for systemic welfare reform in Georgia, we explore the new system as we imagine it could be, give guiding principles, provide a general framework for how the reformed system can function, and establish preliminary steps needed to implement the vision.


In the third and final paper of our three-part series presenting a vision for systemic welfare reform in Georgia, we propose the creation of new, consolidated program modules (including their structure, design, and expected outcomes) to replace current, disjointed programs. We go on to present a structure Georgia’s governor and executive agencies could adopt to effectively and in relatively short order implement a reformed system.


Medical assistance programs have long needed reforms to address high prices and lack of access. Despite the fact that federal policy tends to dominate medical assistance programs, states do have some flexibility to enact reforms. This study explores how states – and particularly Georgia – have flexibility and can experiment with Medicaid, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to improve access, lower costs, and streamline the system to better serve those in need of assistance.


Georgia has suffered from higher unemployment rates and lower high school graduation rates than the national average for many years. This report takes a look at the trends driving those problems and the potential solutions, including apprenticeships, that could lead to greater economic mobility for young adults.

President Biden to reinstate the work search requirements for unemployment benefits

President Biden to reinstate the work search requirements for unemployment benefits

President Biden to reinstate the work search requirements for unemployment benefits

President Joe Biden has instructed the federal Department of Labor to work with state labor commissioners to reinstate the work search requirements for unemployment benefits.

The Georgia Center for Opportunity’s (GCO) take: “Detaching the work-search requirement from unemployment benefits served an important purpose during the worst of the pandemic, but that time is now long past,” said Buzz Brockway, GCO’s vice president of public policy. “This move by President Biden signals an important return to normal as the economy recovers and people get back to work. Indeed, in many counties across our state we’re seeing a surplus of jobs that pay a decent wage, with more openings than there are candidates actively looking. The safety-net is important, but it should be a temporary measure to get people back to work.”