Municipal leaders in cities like Philadelphia and Newark, N.J., are using employment-focused prisoner re-entry strategies to remove obstacles to work, prevent reoffending and reduce crime in their communities, says the National League of Cities. Some cities are using bid incentives for city contracts and wage reimbursements for employers who hire individuals with criminal records. In Philadelphia, any business that hired an ex-offender beginning January 1, 2008, is eligible to apply for a $10,000 credit against their Business Privilege Tax for three years as part of the Philadelphia Re-Entry Program (PREP).
Newark, N.J., recently announced $5 million in new funding to serve as a pilot city for the President's Prisoner Reentry Initiative, a federal program that seeks to reduce recidivism. The new initiative will help former inmates find work when they return to their neighborhoods. The city got a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor and $3 million from local philanthropic organizations to provide 1,200 former offenders with basic job skills and other assistance. The funding will be used to build on existing services, such as Opportunity Re-connect, which provides access to employment assistance, job training and other services. The initiative will also expand partnerships with faith and community-based organizations to provide case management, mentoring, skills assessment and referrals to health care providers.