A new grant from the California Workforce Development Board will help felons released from prison reenter society by providing them with a set of services to support them, including direct cash payments to help with daily expenses like housing, travel, and clothes while they get on their feet, according to a news release from the nonprofit Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO — no way that abbreviation will confuse anyone!) which received the $6.9 million grant. About $2 million of the funds will go to cash payments given directly to formerly incarcerated people, building on the radical but well-documented idea that one of the best ways to get people out of poverty is to give them money.
The grant is part of an initiative called Helping Justice-Involved Reenter Employment (HIRE), which is aimed at reducing recidivism by improving former prisoners’ opportunities for employment and providing services that help them reenter society. The program will involve a network of providers of reentry services designed to
provide an array of employment and other complementary services to individuals recently released from incarceration, such as housing and legal services.
CEO will be a “hub” that coordinates the various services — drug and alcohol recovery, education, and other reentry providers — so that people aren’t just tossed out the prison gate with a class on how to write a résumé, some thrift-store clothes and the vague hope that their brother Elwood will help them get settled, unless he did something crazy like trading their Cadillac for a microphone. (Yr Doktor Zoom has extensively researched the literature on reentry, as you can see.)
Here’s why the cash payments and the other stuff matters: As a 2018 Justice Department review suggested, community-reentry programs that focus primarily on employment tend to have little effect on whether participants had future arrests or incarcerations, but programs that provided more comprehensive services, like Minnesota’s Comprehensive Offender Reentry Plan, which connects caseworkers in prison with case managers after release, and social supports like counseling and substance abuse treatment, tend to have better results. (That particular program, however, was a pilot program and is no longer operational, but the main point is that the approach had better results. No word on whether it got bands back together, however.)
Samuel Schaeffer, who is the actual CEO of CEO (see?) was bullish on the grant, not too big a surprise since his nonprofit received it:
“This innovative and critical funding is a real game changer for Californians returning from incarceration. It will streamline CEO and our partners’ ability to provide direct cash payments and critical employment services–including immediate work with daily pay, career training, and wraparound support–when people need it most.
“With this investment, California is leading the way and demonstrating the state’s commitment to creating real economic mobility for justice-impacted Californians, so they can build a better life for themselves and their families. It is the first state to make this kind of comprehensive employment investment in reentry services, and we hope it will be the first of many in the years to come.”
It sure sounds promising, especially since getting and keeping a job is just one of the challenges faced by formerly incarcerated people. California in 2017 passed the “Fair Chance Act,” which bans most businesses with five or more employees from asking about whether an applicant has any arrests or convictions (except when required by law), and prohibits them from turning down job applicants just because they have a criminal record, but even so, it can be hard for formerly incarcerated people to get better than low-wage work.
To help address that, Los Angeles County passed its own “Fair Chance Hiring Program” that gives employers financial incentives to hire formerly incarcerated people; that program also partners with some of the same recidivism-prevention nonprofits, such as Root & Rebound, that will be working with CEO in the new cash-payment grant program.
No word yet on whether Fox News has heard of the grant program; once it does, it’ll no doubt complain that helping people get resettled and go straight amounts to giving away cash to felons when ordinary people can’t even afford their $90 Thanksgiving turkeys, and what a world, what a world, crime really does pay. Let’s hope the program starts demonstrating successes quickly, as if evidence would help, the end.
Hate The $90 Turkeys At The Joe Biden $90 Turkey Store
Shocking Study Shows That Giving Poor Parents Money Benefits The Children They Are Raising
[CEO / Justice Department / LAT]
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