A highway running into the horizon in a tropical location with palm trees scattered.

Tackling Recidivism in Ventura County, California

Public Sector Solutions, Public Safety & Reentry


$2.59MMobilized to reduce recidivism in Ventura County


Increase in enrollment for adult probationers in medium-to-high-risk situations

In California, about 50% of individuals released from custody are convicted of a subsequent crime within three years of release, a number that has remained stubbornly high since the early 2000s. Social Finance partnered with Ventura County and Interface Children & Family Services to establish the Ventura County Project to Support Reentry to improve outcomes for recently incarcerated individuals and their communities. Through this partnership, impact investors provided upfront capital to fund individualized services for formerly incarcerated individuals and were repaid by Ventura County to the extent that measurable reductions in recidivism were achieved.


  • Serve a priority population with high demand for reentry services, addressing individual needs through case management, clinical services, and job-readiness skills.
  • Scale high-quality services in the community and building service providers’ capacity to provide these services.
  • Manage referral and enrollment processes through ongoing performance management.
  • Increase the accountability and transparency of program outcomes for all project stakeholders by improving data capacity and focusing on measurement.

The Work

Social Finance developed and implemented strategies to achieve these goals through:

  • Data collection and analysis: We developed data integration and review processes that allowed for ongoing performance management and allowed the evaluator to measure program success by analyzing reductions in arrest rates through a randomized control trial.
  • Governance processes: We established formal governance processes which brought key stakeholders together to establish relationships, review information, make key decisions, and amend contracts or operations as required.
  • Operations refinement: We created and implemented action plans that broke down monthly results for each probation officer’s metrics—including number of participants assessed, number of participants eligible, and number of participants randomized—to identify sources of enrollment pipeline attrition. We also supported new operational processes within the probation agency staff, including shifting a new level of oversight to supervisors. Probation leadership recognized opportunities to support probation officers and the referral process by incorporating eligibility review earlier in the client engagement process. Through these process changes, Social Finance and the agency adjusted targets to set more realistic and achievable monthly goals, against which progress was actively discussed within the agency and at each governance meeting.
  • Program model adaptation: We led project partners in pivoting operations due to Covid-19, developing processes to allow virtual consent into programming and supporting service provider transition to remote service delivery.

Enrollment Pipeline


Participant Stories

Ventura County neighborhood

For Johnny, a Supportive Case Manager Was the First Step

Johnny was a young man passionate about starting his own business and eager to build stronger relationships, but his probation history was holding him back. That’s when Johnny was referred to Interface Children & Family Services as part of the Ventura County Project to Support Reentry. In 2020, Johnny graduated from Interface. Today, he’s employed, in a stable relationship, and renting an apartment with a great view of the water.

Mechanician changing car wheel in auto repair shop

For Fred, Support Led to Stability—and the Chance to Pay It Forward

After more than three decades in and out of custody and probation, Fred had become accustomed to instability and turmoil. He ultimately received the support he needed thanks to Interface Children & Family Services and the Ventura County Project to Support Reentry. Over time, this support helped him create a more stable life. He now operates a successful automotive repair business and hopes to begin volunteering to help others find their way.

A trimester pregnant woman holding her stomach.

Stella is Drug-Free and Employed, Thanks In Part to an Innovative Partnership

In 2016, Stella was using drugs, had recently lost her job, and was experiencing homelessness when she became involved with the criminal legal system. With the support of her case manager at Interface Children & Family Services, Stella entered supportive housing for pregnant women and accessed and critical benefits that enabled her to afford supplies for her soon-to-arrive infant. By the end of her probation, she was drug-free, employed, and a loving mother to a new baby.

How It Works


The Results

Governance processes allowed the key stakeholders to develop strong, trusting relationships and allowed the program to adapt to challenges, including Covid-19, in real time. Read about our main learnings and the evaluation takeaways given Covid-19 in our Final Learnings Report.

$2.59MFunding mobilized to reduce recidivism in Ventura County

64%Percent increase in program enrollment

346Number of adults on probation supported by the program

The staff at Social Finance are project managers and experts in data analysis and integration. They can help you decide what programs would most likely be successful, do the contracts, implement and launch the project, and help you through the governing and operational phases. They are the complete package, from beginning to end.Frank Chow, Program Management Analyst, Ventura County Executive Office



Partners and Supporters