In an endeavor never tried before by a major city, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has created an initiative that will offer everyone leaving the city’s jails a short-term job upon release, as well as additional services while incarcerated.
It may take years to realize what effect this will have on recidivism, but it’s certainly a start.
In an announcement made late last month, the mayor said that by the end of 2017, everyone incarcerated in city jails will meet with a counselor on their first day in and will have access to five hours of vocational, educational and therapeutic training daily during their stay.
“Everyone deserves a second chance. We’re working to break the cycle of returning to jail for those in city custody by making sure they have opportunities to learn and grow while in jail, and connecting them with the re-entry services to support a pathway to stability when they leave,” said de Blasio when the program was announced.
And when they do leave, they will have a job to go to and support to help them prepare for reentry.
New York City’s Jails to Jobs program offers transitional employment opportunities
As part of the city’s Jails to Jobs program, each prisoner, after serving their sentence, will receive short-term transitional employment that is designed to help them secure a long-term job. According to research evaluating the Center for Employment Opportunities Transitional Jobs Program, gaining transitional employment can help reduce recidivism by as much as 22 percent.
In order to further help those recently released from prison get their lives together, a new health program will pair them with a formerly incarcerated peer, a so-called peer navigator who is stabilized.
In addition to being able to take advantage of these new programs, 500 people who leave city jails each year will still have access to educational subsidies they can use for classes and programs at the City University of New York. Participating in these classes and programs can lead toward a certificate or other credentials that will help participants secure employment.
While these are noble efforts, they aren’t being carried out by the city government alone. de Blasio’s office is working with the New York City Diversion and Re-Entry Council, an organization made up of more than 100 leaders from throughout the criminal justice system, including city government agencies, district attorneys, members of the faith community and formerly incarcerated individuals.