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Jails to Jobs: City Expands Re-Entry Services and Training for Justice-Impacted Individuals

October 15, 2019

City pledges $19M annually to fund comprehensive job training and re-entry services for all people leaving City jails through its Jails to Jobs initiative

NEW YORK—Today, the City announced an expansion of its Jails to Jobs initiative with a $19 million annual commitment to re-entry services for formerly incarcerated individuals. In addition to providing job readiness workshops, therapeutic and other social services, qualified Jails to Jobs providers will now be able to offer transitional employment to all individuals leaving City jails, regardless of sentencing.

Jails to Jobs, launched in April 2018, provides individuals leaving City jails with one-on-one peer mentors, workforce training, educational subsidies, and short-term transitional employment. The program also requires all workforce providers to be trained in issues and laws related to working with people with criminal records. The initial Jails to Jobs was offered to approximately 5,200 individuals per year. Today’s announcement will expand these resources to all individuals leaving City jails, and will grow to be able to offer programming and services to approximately 9,000 people. Previously, paid transitional employment was only offered to individuals serving a city sentence.

Today’s event was held at Exodus, a Jails to Jobs partner that provides job training, wrap around case management services and paid transitional employment—often involving peer work. They also provide hot meals and social services, and are currently in the midst of expansion.

Over the last 20 years, Exodus has served over 25,000 people, advocating for their rights, helping them to build the skills necessary to join the workforce in career focused jobs, and building skills with them and placing these resilient, hard-working, talented individuals in jobs all over New York.

This builds on previous funding commitments from the Department of Correction (DOC) and Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ) for re-entry programming in City jails and re-entry services upon an individual’s release from custody. The RFP, issued by MOCJ, reflect the City’s continued commitment to provide programming based on best-practices for those in custody, as well as in the community, to provide stability for those leaving incarceration, while decreasing the likelihood of continued criminal justice system involvement.

The solicitation for re-entry services will significantly increase the breadth and coordination of services that help people find and maintain employment following their release from City custody.  Notable enhancements in this solicitation include:

  • Hybrid in-custody roles: To ensure the greatest levels of success, planning for release must begin while an individual is in custody. The solicitation creates specialized “hybrid” roles that connect service providers with people in custody prior to release. Providers will be able to assess the individuals’ needs and make connections to supports in the community upon discharge.
  • Enhanced day-of-discharge supports: Research demonstrates the period immediately following release is critical, particularly to ensure immediate needs are met during times of transition. The new solicitation aims to connect people with service providers at the point of release to provide basic needs and connect people to longer term services.
  • Peer mentors: People with lived experience in the criminal justice system are uniquely positioned to foster trusting relationships and promote service engagement for those with similar experiences, leading to increased stability upon release. To build on their expertise, the solicitation creates roles for credible peer mentors to assist individuals in their transition from jail back to the community.
  • Localized service provision: To ensure services are accessible to individuals released from jail, re-entry services aim to be localized in the neighborhoods to which most people return, including through partnerships with local organizations and institutions.
  • Expanded services: Comprehensive services, including paid transitional employment, job readiness workshops and supports, therapeutic services, and a variety of social services will be provided and coordinated as part of the solicitation.

“New York City believes in second chances. With Jails to Jobs, we are breaking the cycle of incarceration by making sure people in City custody have the opportunity to learn and grow while in jail and a pathway to stability as they return to their communities,”  said Mayor de Blasio.

“As the City jail population shrinks and our justice system looks to achieve safety through better means, it remains essential that we provide effective, empowering programming for people while in custody and as they return to their homes and neighborhoods,” said Elizabeth Glazer, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. “By improving programs and services, this Administration is continuing to demonstrate its commitment to creating the smallest, safest, fairest justice system possible.”

“The Jails to Job initiative demonstrates our city’s commitment to providing justice-involved people with the resources necessary to lead productive and rewarding lives,” said Council Member Diana Ayala. “I thank providers like Exodus for doing this critical work and look forward to the program’s growth with this expanded funding.”

“As the city prepares to close Rikers Island, it is critical to invest in programs that will benefit individuals when they leave jail. Re-entry services can help to reduce recidivism and transition people back into their communities. I thank the Mayor’s office for continuing to invest in Jails to Jobs,” said Council Member Keith Powers.

“Exodus Transitional Community appreciates the Mayor's Office for investing an additional $19 million in funding for the Jails to Jobs Initiative. For New Yorkers who must experience incarceration and are unable to be diverted from jail, the J2J Initiative provides people with an opportunity to gain employment - a necessity to succeed in life. We look forward to continued work with the Mayor's Office on future community and justice investments,” said Julio Medina, Executive Director, Exodus Transitional Community.

“The Jails to Jobs program affirms the value of what Fortune has learned over more than five decades:  jobs matter on the road to successful reentry,” said JoAnne Page, President and CEO of The Fortune Society. “When individuals emerge from the trauma of Rikers Island – even after a short incarceration – they have often lost their jobs, and too often jeopardized their housing as well.  The Jails to Jobs program gives Fortune participants an immediate opportunity to obtain paid work – work that helps put food on the table, support the family and most important, puts them on the pathway to permanent employment.  Employment is key to stopping the cycle of recidivism.  The Fortune Society is proud to partner with the de Blasio administration on this initiative as part of the commitment to reduce the jail population and, ultimately close Riker’s Island.”

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