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Funding Principles

Promote Workforce Strategies for Reintegrating Ex-Offenders

Funding Principles
  • Maximize federal funds. Several federal programs are available to address the employment of ex-offenders.

    The Second Chance Act was s igned into law on April 9, 2008, designed to improve outcomes for people returning to communities from prisons and jails and includes grants to government agencies and nonprofit organizations to provide employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, housing, family programming, mentoring, victims support, and other services that can help reduce recidivism.

    The Federal Bonding Program provides Fidelity Bonds that guarantee honesty for “at-risk,” hard-to-place job seekers as an incentive to employers. The bonds cover the first six months of employment. There is no cost to the job applicant or the employer. In most states the bonds are made available through the state agency responsible for workforce matters. New York State’s Department of Labor has participated in the program for several years and uses their program to help secure employment for reintegrating ex-offenders.

    The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal tax credit incentive provided to private-sector businesses for hiring individuals who have consistently faced barriers to employment. The main objective is to enable the employees to gradually move from economic dependency into self-sufficiency, while the participating employers are compensated by being able to reduce their federal income tax liability.  California’s Employment Development Department uses the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to assist in employment for ex-offenders who are looking for jobs within one-year of their release from prison. 
  • Leverage Private Funds – Utilize Public Private Partnerships. 

    Justice Reinvestment Initiative is one of the largest public-private partnerships.  It is a data-driven strategy for policymakers to reduce spending on corrections, increase public safety and improve the conditions in the neighborhoods to which most recently-released offenders return. The strategy includes steps to:  analyze the prison population and spending in the communities to which people in prison often return;  provide policymakers with options to generate savings and increase public safety; quantify savings and reinvest in select high-stakes communities and measure the impact and enhance accountability.  The initiative is in the process of identifying other states to add to the select number of jurisdictions currently receiving technical assistance.  For example, state policymakers in Texasrecently shifted $241 million from prison construction to treatment and diversion programs that would reduce the prison population.

    The Department of Justice has prioritized supporting public/private partnerships.  One example of that commitment is the Weed and Seed initiative sponsored by the Community Capacity Development Office. Weed and Seed is a comprehensive multiagency approach to law enforcement, crime prevention and community revitalization.  Weed and Seed sites have large numbers of returning offenders, and Weed and Seed initiatives include competitive federal grant dollars, private funding and community level participation.  Law enforcement agencies and prosecutors cooperate in addressing violent crime while partnering with public agencies and community-based private organizations that collaborate to provide human services, including prevention, intervention, treatment and neighborhood restoration programs, to the community. There is also community member involvement through community policing.  Florida is administering 21 Weed and Seed sites in communities including South Miami, Fort Meyers and Homestead.