Cities typically have neither an independent agency with a mandate to handle prisoner reentry nor a budget to support such efforts, Richard Greenwald and Howard Husock write for the Manhattan Institute. That’s a symptom of a larger problem. In contrast with most government functions–from public health to public assistance–there is no one agency charged with, and accountable for, the job of helping ex-offenders become successful, law-abiding citizens.
Increasingly, in cities like Newark, Jacksonville, and Chicago, mayors and other leaders, knowing that their cities are at risk if the reentry problem is not addressed, are taking steps to organize this disjointed non-system and to hold accountable those who are supposed to be steering former prisoners toward constructive lives, Greenwald and Husock say. At the heart of this effort is the same strategy that made welfare reform effective in the 1990s: a focus on employment. The authors describe re-entry programs in Newark and elsewhere.