Initiative Provides $5M To Train Individuals Released from Prison

January 20, 2016 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

prison-1579221It’s been played out countless times. A prisoner serves his time, gets released, realizes he has no sufficient skills to support himself, gets back in trouble with the law, then finds himself back in prison once again. The Department of Labor (DOL), however, aims to use federal grant funds to tackle this situation.

DOL’s Employment and Training Administration recently made available about $5 million for 10 grants of up to $500,000 each to put specialized American Job Centers within county, municipal or regional correctional facilities. Under the “Linking to Employment Activities Pre-Release” Initiative, the grants will support an integrated approach that links pre-release services directly to post-release services.

The U.S. Justice Department of Justice reports that about 9 million people are released from county and local jails annually, yet many of these individuals have few job skills and face difficult barriers to stable employment. Without a strong support system or a steady job, many once incarcerated people are likely to commit new crimes and return to jail: a cycle of recidivism that recurs nationally.

To determine how this new initiative would help in alleviating this issue, DOL awarded $10 million in grants last June for demonstration projects in 20 communities in 14 states to provide inmates with comprehensive services before release, and ongoing support when their incarceration ends. As Labor Secretary Thomas Perez puts it: “There is no such thing as a spare American. We need to take people where we find them and help them overcome barriers. These grants strengthen our communities by integrating services already available in the community and building partnerships between local correctional systems and the local workforce systems.”

The pre-release initiative seeks to integrate two services already offered by local governments — correctional facilities and workforce development programs. Nationwide, the U.S. Department of Labor funds approximately 2,500 American Job Centers, which local governments or nonprofit organizations administer through local workforce investment boards.

We support this initiative. Any effort to end the prison loop and make such individuals productive citizens is a positive step. Hopefully these grant funds will ultimately make a difference in reducing recidivism.

Let us know your reaction to this initiative and if you think it will help.

 

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