Attorney General Eric Holder today convened the third meeting of the federal interagency Reentry Council at the Department of Justice. The council represents 20 federal agencies working to make communities safer by reducing recidivism and victimization; assist those who return from prison and jail in becoming productive citizens; and save taxpayer dollars by lowering the direct and collateral costs of incarceration. The Attorney General chairs the council which he established in January 2011 .
“When reentry fails, the costs—both societal and economic—are high,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “Our joint commitment is to eliminate barriers to successful reentry by improving employment, housing, treatment and education opportunities for individuals who have been incarcerated so they can support themselves and their families and contribute to their communities.”
Among the topics discussed at today’s meeting were important new efforts to reduce barriers to employment. For example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently updated enforcement guidance on the use of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The revised guidance clarifies and updates the EEOC’s longstanding policy concerning the use of arrest and conviction records in employment, which will assist job seekers, employees, employers, and many other agency stakeholders. The Department of Labor is working to educate the One-Stop Career Centers’ network on the new guidance and other nondiscrimination obligations under federal law. The centers provide a full range of assistance to job seekers under one roof. Established under the Workforce Investment Act , they offer training referrals, career counseling, job listings, and similar employment-related services. Customers can visit a center in person or connect to the center's information through PC or kiosk remote access.
“The Department of Labor is committed to ensuring that all Americans have access to the help they need in getting the necessary skills to move forward along a sustainable career pathway,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “That means promoting programs to specifically address the needs of those with traditional barriers to employment, but it also means making sure that the workforce system is able to offer proper guidance regardless of where and how people are looking for employment help.”
The Federal Trade Commission covered their new employer education flyer, “ Using Consumer Reports: What Employers Need to Know ,” which outlines employer obligations when they use reports, including criminal histories, for employment decisions such as hiring, promotion, reassignment and retention. Also, the Small Business Administration recently joined the Reentry Council as the 20th agency, providing new linkages to small business networks, entrepreneurship training, and microloan opportunities.
“Ensuring equal employment opportunity is critical to a strong economy and central to the reentry conversation,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien. “Engaging with a broad range of federal agencies through the federal interagency Reentry Council helps us in our work to eliminate unnecessary barriers to employment.”
Today’s Reentry Council meeting was attended by Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Office of National Drug Control Policy Director R. Gil Kerlikowske, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien and White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz. Participants also included representatives from the following agencies: Departments of Interior, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, Federal Trade Commission, Small Business Administration, Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration, Office of Personnel Management, and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
For more information about the federal Reentry Council, visit www.nationalreentryresourcecenter.org/reentry-council .
The “Reentry Myth Busters” fact sheets are available at www.nationalreentryresourcecenter.org/documents/0000/1090/REENTRY_MYTHBUSTERS.pdf .
For more information about reentry and the Second Chance Act, visit www.nationalreentryresourcecenter.org .
To access the National Institute of Justice’s reentry research portfolio visit www.nij.gov/nij/topics/corrections/reentry/welcome.htm .