Project Greenlight

Program Goals

Project Greenlight was an institution-based transitional services demonstration program that was piloted in New York State’s Queensboro Correctional Facility. The program was designed to be a short, intensive intervention that could serve a greater number of offenders with reentry services at a lower cost. The 8-week program concentrated on addressing key issues that face offenders when they transition from prison to the community, including housing, employment, and drug treatment.


Program Theory

Components of the Project Greenlight program were based on research that has identified principles that characterize effective correctional treatment programs. These principles are that treatment should address dynamic (criminogenic) factors; programs should employ cognitive–behavioral, skills-oriented, or multimodal treatment approaches; interventions should concentrate on the needs of participants, with higher risk offenders receiving more intensive services; and interventions should be implemented appropriately (Wilson and Davis 2006).


Services Provided

Project Greenlight provided prerelease services and connected participants to community-based services, but there was no follow-up in the community. So they could participate in program services, inmates were transferred to the Queensboro Correctional Facility roughly 60 to 90 days before their scheduled conditional release date. The first week provided participants with an orientation that introduced them to each of the program components and to the staff. Program staff provided participants with the information they needed to find and keep a job, avoid drug and alcohol relapse, and make better decisions in all areas of their lives following release from prison. Programming was designed to be nonsequential, to accommodate people working at different levels, and to adjust services as new participants entered the program at different times.


One component of the program emphasized changing antisocial behaviors and thinking of offenders by providing cognitive–behavioral treatment. The Reasoning and Rehabilitation (R&R) program was adapted to run for 60 days, which is a shorter period than the program was originally designed for and a significant deviation from the program model. Job readiness training was provided, which included preparing for and conducting job interviews and guidance in workplace behavior. The program also aimed at strengthening the practical living skills of inmates. Sessions covered budgeting, time-management strategies, how to use public transportation, how to set up and use a bank account, and where to get emergency cash or noncash assistance when money is scarce. Finally, drug treatment concentrated on relapse prevention and substance abuse awareness. Those participants who could acknowledge their substance-use issues went to a relapse prevention group, where each person designed a relapse prevention plan and prepared to enter treatment upon release.


In addition, the program helped participants build social supports that would be available upon their release from prison. A community coordinator built a network of community-service providers, and participants were connected with the providers before their release. A family counselor and family specialist worked with offenders and their families to address any remaining issues before release. Program participants were also introduced to parole officers and informed about parole supervision requirements so they could avoid parole-related problems.


Detailed release plans were created for each program participant, which captured what participants needed to do after they were released in areas of employment, education, community resources, family, and substance abuse. Participants worked on these plans with their case managers, who in turn discussed areas in the release plan with the parole officers who supervised the inmates in the community. The field parole officer could make changes to the plans as an inmate’s circumstances changed after release.


Key Personnel

Project Greenlight program staff included corrections counselors, an institutional parole officer, an alcohol and substance abuse treatment team, corrections officers, a family reintegration specialist, a family counselor, a community coordinator, a job developer, an operations director, a project director, a project assistant, and field parole officers.


Additional Information: Negative Program Effects

An outcome evaluation (described below in Evaluation Methodology and Outcomes) compared Project Greenlight subjects with a group of inmates who received transitional services through a program that was already in operation at the Queensboro Correctional Facility and with a group of inmates in Upstate New York prisons who received no transitional services. Project Greenlight appears to have increased the rearrest and parole revocation rates of inmates who participated in the program, when compared with inmates who did not participate following release from prison.

Intervention ID

18 to 100

No Effects

Study 1

Wilson and colleagues (2005) found that Project Greenlight (GL) participants, who had the most extensive prerelease programming, actually had worse outcomes when compared with Transitional Services Program (TSP) participants, who had some prerelease programming, and Upstate participants, who received no prerelease programming.


New Arrests and Revocations

GL participants had significantly more total arrests than TSP and Upstate participants. Forty-four percent of GL participants experienced one or more misdemeanor or felony arrests, compared with 35 percent of TSP participants and 32 percent of the Upstate participants. These differences were statistically significant. The GL group also had high rates of new felony arrests, compared with the other two groups, but the difference was not significant.


GL participants had their parole revoked at a significantly higher rate as well. GL participants experienced more parole revocations (29 percent of the group had their parole revoked), compared with the TSP group (25 percent had parole revoked) and the Upstate group (17 percent had their parole revoked).


Survival analysis confirmed these initial results: the GL group recidivated more often than the TSP and Upstate groups. Looking at total arrests that occurred during the 12-month period after release, 65.9 percent of GL participants remained arrest free, compared with 75.8 percent of TSP participants and 73.2 percent of Upstate participants. Thus, 10 percent more of the GL group experienced an arrest, compared with the TSP group, after 12 months. The Kaplan–Meier analysis for group comparisons found that the difference between GL and TSP in total arrests was statistically significant, and the difference between GL and Upstate in parole revocations was also significant.


Cox regression, which controlled for other variables that might influence outcomes (such as age, education, ethnicity, prior arrests), found that in terms of program effect, the addition of control variables does not mediate the negative effect of the GL program.


Finally, all programming of the GL program was delivered by individual case managers. When case managers were added as a proxy for the intervention program into the analysis, the results showed that two case managers in particular appeared to be associated with a significant negative impact on the GL program outcomes.

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