Local Employers and Agencies Participate In National Reentry Week
CEDAR RAPIDS, IA - The United States Department of Justice has designated April 24-30, 2016, as National Reentry Week. During this week, communities nationwide will focus on what can be done to break the cycle of incarceration that is prevalent in communities across the nation, including here in Iowa.
Ninety three percent of offenders currently behind bars will be eligible for release. State workforce and corrections agencies are working to address this issue that affects thousands of Iowans. Each year, more than 600,000 individuals return to our communities after serving time in federal and state prisons. In 2015, Iowa released 5,166 individuals from prison.
An additional 11.4 million people cycle through local jails nationally. Many of these individuals commit new crimes and end up back in prison. Research has shown a strong correlation between employment and recidivism. Simply put, individuals coming out of prison are much less likely to commit a new crime if they are employed with a good job.
“Too often, justice-involved individuals who have paid their debt to society confront daunting obstacles to good jobs, decent housing, adequate health care, quality education, and even the right to vote,” noted United States Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “National Reentry Week highlights the many ways that the Department of Justice is working to tear down the barriers that stand between returning citizens and a meaningful second chance – leading to brighter futures, stronger communities, and a more just and equal nation for all.”
“Making the criminal justice system more effective at reducing recidivism by helping formerly incarcerated individuals contribute to their communities with employment is a priority for the Department of Justice. An important part of that task is addressing obstacles to successful reentry that too many returning citizens encounter,” stated United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, Kevin W. Techau.
Later today, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa, Iowa Workforce Development, Iowa Department of Corrections, the United States Probation Office, and America’s Job Honor Awards, will attend a proclamation signing with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad in Des Moines, where the Governor will proclaim April 24-30 Reentry Week in Iowa.
Earlier this week the United States Attorney’s Office hosted a focus group consisting of a select group of Cedar Rapids area business leaders. The aim of the focus group was to discuss perceived issues facing employers when deciding whether to hire individuals with criminal backgrounds. This group engaged in a candid discussion of the issues relating to the business community’s involvement to assist in reducing recidivism. The feedback received will assist in formulating programs to reduce recidivism while at the same time allaying the related concerns facing the business community. At least two other employer focus groups are in the planning stages and will be held at other locations across the District. Following this, a job fair will be held where employers and justice-involved individuals can interact.
To learn more about this inaugural event, visit: http://go.usa.gov/cuDh5.
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