Federal officials turned down an application from a prominent Boston black clergy group and the city’s police department for money to extend a program that aims to prevent ex-convicts from returning to criminal activity, reports the Boston Globe. The rejection raises questions about whether the program will continue when its current funding runs out next summer. Officials of the U.S. Department of Labor would not explain why the application was rejected. Spokesmen for the police and the Black Ministerial Alliance declined to speculate.
Applicants for aid from President Bush’s Prisoner Reentry Initiative were required to demonstrate a record of success in rehabilitating ex-convicts. The proposal from the ministers and police supplied scant information about the results of its program, which has received about $1.1 million in local, state, and federal government funding since 2001. Instead of funding the well-known ministers-police partnership, the Labor Department awarded the grant of $660,000 to Span Inc., a nonprofit agency that for 29 years has been helping prisoners reenter society. A Globe review of grant documents, suggests that Span may have edged out the Black Ministerial Alliance and police because it was better able to demonstrate that its programs work. A copy of the executive summary of the ministerial alliance-police application contained results for only one year of the four-year program. On the key question of whether ex-offenders who went through the program returned to lives of crime, it reported on only 137 of the nearly 600 offenders it said had participated.