White House Helps Inmates Get Jobs Before Release

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The White House is trying to help 2,200 federal prisoners line up work and housing before they are released next month, reports The Marshall Project. The release is made possible by the First Step Act. The prisoners to be let out in July are the largest group to be freed so far. Their sentences are being reduced under a provision effective next month that increases the amount of credit prisoners could get for good conduct in custody. The intent was to train inmates to find work and to screen them for any risk they might pose to public safety.

Advocates for the law are concerned that the inmates aren’t prepared to land jobs, find housing or obtain transportation from prison to places where they will live. Congress has not yet funded the five-month-old law, and the Department of Justice has failed to allocate significant funding for it. Criminal justice reforms could be set back if many prisoners reoffend or if someone commits a high-profile crime. About 45 percent of people released from federal prison return within five years, says the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Until now, the law’s biggest impact has come from a provision that cut heavy sentences for crack cocaine. The change has set free 643 federal inmates. With weeks remaining before thousands more prisoners are freed, the Trump administration has assigned the U.S. Probation Office and the Department of Labor to help people prepare to return home. White House officials are seeking as much help as possible from the private sector.

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