U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft is promoting the Bush administration’s prisoner re-entry program. At the first annual National Offender Re-entry Conference in Cleveland yesterday, sponsored by the Justice Department, were 1,200 people who work directly with ex-offenders at nonprofit and government agencies across the country, says the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “America is the land of second chances,” Ashcroft said, quoting Bush’s State of the Union speech. “When the gates of prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life.”
Ashcroft said his department had provided more than $6.6 million for programs working with ex-offenders. He announced a pilot program in Cleveland and six other cities that will provide money for one staffer in the U.S. Attorney’s office to assess and coordinate re-entry programs in that area. About 5,000 ex-offenders return to Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County each year, many struggling to find work and housing and to lead stable lives, said Craig Tame, Cleveland’s chief of health and public safety. “They’re incredibly vulnerable,” he said.