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Investing in jails

In a letter in the New York Times, Dr. Peter Provet comments on a private funding initiative to reduce recidivism among adolescent men incarcerated at Rikers Island.

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Investing in Jails

To the Editor:

Re “Goldman to Invest in City Jail Program, Profiting if Recidivism Falls Sharply” (news article, Aug. 2):
While we applaud creative financing for social service programs, we need to be careful how we build systems for identifying appropriate metrics for success, given these complex social behaviors where relapse and recidivism are a frequent part of the process.

That said, nonprofits are eager to partner with private industry when the goal is to augment government money.

Typically, private foundations serve this role, and with their support many organizations run innovative and results-oriented programs where a return on investment, in the form of improvements in the lives of the program participants, is built into the project.

That this initiative takes it a step further by providing an investor with a financial incentive to tackle difficult societal problems is a challenge the nonprofit sector is demonstrably ready to meet.


President and Chief Executive

Odyssey HouseNew York, Aug. 4, 2012

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