“Organizations like RecycleForce help keep people out of prison, not only by providing a transitional job, but also by changing the way people think about work,” said Porter, whose research interests include leadership, organizational behavior and team dynamics. “Some of these guys said, ‘I never want to work. I never want to be one of those people going to a job.’ For them to be at a point where they can embrace a job and understand that’s what they have to do, while seeing the benefits of working, I think that’s a big deal.”
Their goal is to identify a fine-grain model to show what the re-employment process could look like for ex-offenders working to successfully re-enter society, to help them avoid recidivism.
The team interviewed 80 employees at RecycleForce: 65 temporary employees and 15 who’ve been hired full time. In addition to lengthy interviews, the researchers conducted an employee survey and collected data about employee history, demographics and risk factors.
The employees were mostly men, about 40 years old. On average, they each had 2.5 jobs on their résumés. For many, RecycleForce was the first legitimate job they’d had.