WASHINGTON — More than 9 million people are released from more than 3,000 county jails nationwide each year, many with few job skills and little prospect for employment. Without a strong support system or a steady job, many former inmates commit new crimes and end up back in jail — a cycle of incarceration that persists across the country. The U.S. Department of Labor is working to break that cycle with the announcement of a new $5 million funding opportunity that will provide employment services to inmate prior to release and steady support as they transition back to their communities.
"There is no such thing as a spare American, so we need to meet people where they are and help them overcome barriers," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "These grants will give soon-to-be released inmates a real shot at success, keep our communities safe and go a long way toward breaking the cycle of incarceration that has plagued so many families around the country."
The grant will support a pilot project — Linking to Employment Activities Pre-release — that works by placing specialized American Job Centers inside county, municipal or regional jails and correctional facilities. There, soon-to-be released inmates can receive employment and job placement services that will increase their chances of obtaining a job and successfully returning to their communities. Upon release, participants will be directly connected to a community-based American Job Center that will continue to provide support and follow-up services to ensure the transition remains successful.
The Department plans to award approximately 10 grants of up to $500,000 each. Grantees must be local Workforce Investment Boards with demonstrated partnerships with their county or municipal governments and their county, municipal, or regional correctional facilities.
The Funding Opportunity Announcement, which includes information about how to apply, is available at http://www.grants.gov.