Economic Mobility

Our reentry work aims to help communities create access to economic opportunities for people who have criminal records.

Creating upward mobility for people who have criminal records has manifested into three key areas of work for the CSG Justice Center:

  • Ensuring untapped workers have the skills and resources to meet the needs of businesses;
  • Dismantling unnecessary policy barriers to employment and education opportunities;
  • Cultivating understanding and action among business executives and hiring professionals.

Momentum on these issues is growing as interest in criminal justice reform enjoys strong bipartisan support. With the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s release of guidance on the consideration of criminal records in hiring decisions; the proliferation of local hiring initiatives, such as Ban the Box; and the growing need for qualified candidates in the workforce; policymakers and employers are increasingly aware of this issue.

Key Initiatives

It costs us close to $30,000 a year in taxpayer money to keep each person incarcerated. So, we get a whole lot better bang for our buck by investing in workforce training programs ... so that these people can be successful when they reenter society.
Laura Kelly
Governor, Kansas

Key Staff


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Chidi Umez
Project Manager, Corrections and Reentry
Chidi Umez oversees the Clean Slate Clearinghouse and the National Inventory of Collateral Consequences for the employment team. Chidi previously provided training and technical assistance to Second Chance Act grantees that utilized adult mentors in their reentry programs. Prior to
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joining the Justice Center, she served as a Court Attorney in the New York Civil Supreme Court and as an indigent defense attorney in Harris County, TX. She received a BA in English and corporate communications from University of Houston, and a JD from Texas Southern University, Thurgood Marshall School of Law.
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    Erica Nelson
    Project Manager, Corrections and Reentry
    Erica Nelson oversees initiatives focused on improving collaborations between corrections, reentry, and workforce development agencies to improve the economic mobility of people involved with the criminal justice system. She provides training to federal grantees and technical assistance to service providers
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    on evidence-based and best practices in the corrections and workforce development arenas and promotes public and private sector dialogues around employment and reentry issues. Erica has co-authored best practice guides, articles, and other resources to support local, state, and national reentry and employment efforts. Prior to joining the CSG Justice Center, Erica worked for more than a decade in corrections and workforce development. As a work coordinator for the Montgomery County (Maryland) Department of Correction and Rehabilitation and the Baltimore County Department of Corrections, she leveraged employer partnerships to help people with criminal justice system involvement obtain and retain employment. Erica earned a MA in public administration from the University of Baltimore and a BS in criminal justice from Coppin State University.
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    Joshua Gaines
    Senior Policy Analyst, Corrections and Reentry
    Josh Gaines focuses on issues involving the collateral consequences of criminal conviction and supervises maintenance of the National Inventory of the Collateral Consequences of Conviction. He previously served as the deputy director of the Collateral Consequences Resource Center, worked extensively
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    on the Restoration of Rights Project, and provided counsel for federal pardon applicants. Josh received his BA in sociology from North Carolina State University and his J.D. from the Washington College of Law at American University.
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    Le’Ann Duran
    Deputy Division Director, Corrections and Reentry
    Le’Ann Duran leads the CSG Justice Center’s efforts to design and implement strategies to support economic opportunity and prosperity for people with criminal records. She spent the past two decades working with nonprofits and government agencies to design and implement
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    research-informed policies and practices to address crime and incarceration. Previously, Le’Ann directed the National Reentry Resource Center and served as the administrator of the Office of Offender Reentry for the Michigan Department of Corrections, where she managed the state’s Prisoner Reentry Initiative. Le’Ann also served as the executive director of the Center for Employment Opportunities. She received her BS from Texas Tech University and her MS from Colorado State University.
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