Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Reentry Employment Strategies

While having a good job may indeed help someone who is determined to live a crime-free life from returning to prison; it has never been the panacea for recidivism that most criminal justice practitioners have always hoped it would be.

In this recent news story from the Reentry Policy Council the strategy is again attempted as something new, only because those who should know better have chosen to forget the past failures of employment-based recidivism reduction strategies .

It is also interesting that--according to the story--perhaps almost one third of the community are current or former criminals.

An excerpt.

“Despite a general nationwide downturn in reported crime since the early 1990s, police departments and local newspapers in some cities across the country reported in 2007 and 2008 that the per capita violent crime rate in their jurisdictions has begun to creep up; in some areas the rate has increased significantly. To reduce crime, local elected officials have unveiled new crime-fighting strategies that include employment initiatives targeting people with criminal records.

“On April 15, 2008, Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced that the city would offer any business that hires someone who has been incarcerated a $10,000 per-job credit against the city’s Business Privilege Tax for three years. According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, Mayor Nutter said, "Jobs are crucial to a comprehensive public safety plan and providing job opportunities for ex-offenders will go a long way to achieving a sustainable decrease in crime."

“At any given time, the city of 1.4 million is home to 200,000 to 400,000 people returning from prison or jail, many of whom are in need of a job and support services, according to a study by the University of Pennsylvania's School of Social Policy and Practice.

“Officials in Jacksonville, FL, are also implementing innovative crime prevention strategies to reverse recent upticks in crime. According to the 2007 FBI Uniform Crime Report, Jacksonville experienced a 22 percent increase in reports of violent crimes in 2007 over the past year.”