Second Chances For Inmates

$59M for jail-based job centers, overcoming impacts of criminal justice records
Kathleen, of New Stuyahok, Alaska, was a beneficiary of one of the earlier waves of Second Chance grants.

Kathleen, of New Stuyahok, Alaska, was a beneficiary of one of the earlier waves of Second Chance grants.—Dept. of Labor photo

In a departmental co-op, the U.S. Departments of Labor and Justice announced Tuesday a total of $59.4 million in grants to be awarded to particular correctional facilities to support improved re-entry outcomes for current and formerly incarcerated individuals. As many of these grants will specifically go towards establishing more American Job Centers inside prisons, there is a possibility this decision could double as a partial solution to the manufacturing skills gap. $6.4 million is coming from the DOL, while the majority ($53 million) is coming from the Justice Department, in the form of Second Chance grants, parallel to the Obama administration’s ongoing efforts to reduce recidivism and promote reintegration of formerly incarcerated individuals.
As mentioned, one major purpose of the grants is to provide job skills and resources for those still imprisoned. This will primarily be carried out in the form of new American Job Center installations. The second purpose of the funding is to create an “online clearinghouse” that will make information needed to expunge criminal records more readily available to further remove barriers to employment. Outgoing felons have about a 70% unemployment rate in their first year out of prison.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics report the nation’s more than 3,000 county jails release over 11 million people each year. Many of these individuals have few job skills and struggle with transitioning back into local communities and obtaining gainful employment. Research shows that providing improved education and more job opportunities to these people can reduce recidivism and remove many barriers to success – making our communities safer.

“America has always been a land of laws and opportunity, that’s why this administration is doing everything it can to move beyond locking people up and instead working to unlock their potential,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “These grants will help people – who have paid their debt to society – transition from prison to prosperity by contributing fully to our nation’s economy and way of life.”

“If we expect the millions of Americans who come into contact with our justice system to become contributing members of our communities, we have a responsibility to give them the skills and support they need to succeed,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Karol V. Mason. “By providing critical job training, helping to clear criminal records, and offering an array of services to ease the transition back into society, we are tapping a large vein of human potential that can lead us to greater public safety.”

This will be the third round of LEAP (Linking to Employment Activities Pre-Release) grants, awarding approximately $4.9 million in grants to 10 organizations that operate specialized American Job Centers inside correctional facilities. Approximately 2,500 American Job Centers are located in communities throughout the country, funded by the department and administered by local workforce investment boards. The grantees for this round are below:

Linking to Employment Activities Pre-Release Grantees City



County of Hudson Jersey City



Suffolk County Dept. of Labor, Licensing & Consumer Affairs Hauppauge



Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County Seattle



Lane Workforce Partnership Eugene



Workforce Investment Board of Tulare County Visalia



State of Alaska, Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development Juneau



Region 5 Workforce Board Inc. Greenfield



Dallas County Local Workforce Development Board Dallas



Pasco-Hernando Workforce Board Inc. Spring Hill



Pima County Tucson





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