What Is the Prisoner Reentry Employment Program and How Does a Justice-Impacted Person Use It?
It can be hard to find a job when you get out of prison. Even though employers are not supposed to discriminate, some employers don’t hire felons. Others may not hire people with past drug crimes. Lawmakers are trying to address the issue in Congress, but that takes time and may not work. Meanwhile, the Department of Labor offers grant funding to help convicts find work. There is not a specific Prisoner Reentry Employment Program, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have options.
Who can use prisoner reentry employment programs?
Programs are local, so you must live close to a program to use its services. Many programs focus on formerly incarcerated people living in halfway houses or reentry centers. The Department of Labor offers funding through the Workforce Opportunity Investment Act. Grantees can use these funds for youth and adults who have spent time in prison.
The Reentry Employment Opportunities program separates people into two groups. Youth reentry programs focus on those 14 to 24 years old. Adult reentry programs focus on those over the age of 18. These programs are only for formerly incarcerated people. Some of the programs start while you are in prison, while others start when you get out. Each program has its own guidelines. That means you’ll need to look at the rules and see if you qualify.
What do prisoner reentry employment programs offer for formerly incarcerated people?
Not all programs are the same. Adult programs might focus on job skills, like mechanics or welding. Youth programs sometimes focus on helping formerly incarcerated people obtain their high school diploma or GED. The two biggest problems formerly incarcerated people face when trying to reenter the workforce are training and credentials. If you don’t have your diploma, you may want to get your GED.
Reentry programs help formerly incarcerated people start life after prison. That means that they may help with things other than employment. Some programs help you get and raise your credit score. Others can help clear records from public searches. These efforts focus on giving formerly incarcerated people a fair chance at work.
How do I find prisoner reentry employment programs near me?
Because the First Step Act and Second Chance Act focus on reducing recidivism, more and more reentry programs exist. You can browse the list of Department of Labor grantees for some programs. Many of these programs have centers in more than one state.
You can also use online tools to link to reentry programs or search by state. These lists may not have all programs, but they are a good place to start. Since some programs start when you’re in jail, it’s good to start looking before release. Once you find a program that you think will work, you can look into how to join the program and what you need.
There is not a specific prisoner reentry employment program. Instead, many reentry programs exist. You can find programs in your state that will help get you the training and education you need. Some of these programs start in prison, so you should begin your search before your release.