From Prison to Work: A Proposal for a National Prisoner Reentry Program

December 4, 2008


Around seven hundred thousand mostly low-income and minority men and women are released from prison each year. Returning to lives of low wages and high rates of unemployment, about two thirds will be rearrested within three years. I propose a national prisoner reentry program whose core element is up to a year of transitional employment available to all parolees in need of work. Transitional jobs are supplemented by substance-abuse treatment and housing after release, expanded work and educational programs in prison, and the restoration of eligibility for federal benefits for those with felony records. The program costs are offset by increased employment and reduced crime and correctional costs for program participants. By shifting supervision from custody in prison to intensive programs in the community, the national reentry program improves economic opportunity and reduces prison populations.

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