Recently, the first lady and I convened a group of state officials, judges, prosecutors, victim advocates and other stakeholders to discuss Connecticut’s progress toward improving the state’s criminal justice system. Sounds like a run-of-the-mill convening of policymakers and practitioners until you consider the venue: one of our state’s maximum-security prisons, the Cheshire Correctional Institution.
Reentry Media Clips
“If a person commits a crime, and they pay their debt to society, when does that debt end?” asked Jeff Robinson, director of the Trone Center for Justice and Equality, of the American Civil Liberties Union. “Does it end when you come out of prison? Because apparently it’s just beginning when you come out of prison. And that makes no sense.”
Researchers at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law studied data on approximately 250,000 applicants for sales and customer service jobs in the U.S. and found that ex-offenders who secured jobs were no more likely to be fired than non-offenders in the same positions. We’re also less likely to quit, making turnover amongst people with criminal records lower than typical employees.
Last September, Rob and Diane Perez opened DV8 Kitchen, a restaurant that not only hires people in treatment for addiction to opioids or other substances, but also focuses its entire business model on recovery, using the restaurant setting as a tool for rehabilitation.
“Employers can provide a real second chance to those who’ve paid their debt to society,” said Tim Roemer, Deputy Director of the Arizona Department of Homeland Security and Public Safety Advisor to the governor. “It makes our communities safer, it’s a better deal for our taxpayers and it is the right thing to do.”
At the prison there was a program called Musicambia that brings teachers in every week for music theory and performance classes. I went to one of their concerts, and was struck dumb. I saw guys I knew talking and living it up.
Vermont recently became the first state in the 119-year history of America’s youth court to allow 18- and 19-year-olds to be treated in the juvenile justice system. The goal is to increase public safety and the evidence from research indicates that this approach has the potential to be a game-changer in a field in desperate need of innovation.
Carlos, with help from the Legal Aid Society’s Conviction Sealing Project, has filed an application in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn to have his conviction sealed under a new state law. He said he hopes the court will grant him the second chance he has dreamed of: “I want to do better for my children and myself.”
The Charleston Police Department will team up with the Kanawha Institute for Social Research and Action (KISRA) on a program aimed at helping people re-enter society after incarceration. Charleston City Council on Monday approved a memorandum of agreement between the police department and KISRA for the Second Chance Community Reentry Program.
“Our own research found that people who get jobs are less likely to return to prison,” says Nancy La Vigne, director of the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute. “It’s not just getting a job, but retaining that job over time”—particularly one that pays a living wage.