News Release

$10M in grants awarded for jail-based employment centers to ready inmates for job market before release, reduce recidivism

Projects in 14 states seek to strengthen communities and improve public safety

WASHINGTON — More than 9 million people are released from the nation's more than 3,000 county and local jails every year, the U.S. Department of Justice reports. Many of these individuals have few job skills and face difficult barriers to stable employment. Without a strong support system or a steady job, many once incarcerated people are likely to commit new crimes and return to jail: a cycle of recidivism that recurs across the country.

To break the cycle, the U.S. Department of Labor is funding $10 million in grants for demonstration projects in 20 communities in 14 states to provide comprehensive services to inmates before release and ongoing support as they regain their place in the community when their incarceration ends. The grants are funded by the "Linking to Employment Activities Pre-Release" or "LEAP" initiative.

"When someone leaves a county or local jail, very real barriers too often stand in their way as they try to find a good job and lead a successful life," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "We have to do more to help them land on their feet as they return to their communities."

"We have to work together and use existing resources in new, innovative ways to break the cycle of incarceration. The LEAP initiative encourages greater coordination between local workforce programs, correctional systems and other critical services to prepare inmates for jobs before release, and to continue to assist them as they return home," Perez added. "This is a commonsense approach that strengthens communities and improves public safety at the same time."

The goal of the LEAP initiative is to break down silos and help integrate two services already offered by local governments — correctional facilities and workforce development programs. In nearly every county, municipal or regional area, jail or correctional facilities are located near the approximately 2,500 American Job Centers in the U.S., funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, but administered by local government or a non-profit organization through a local workforce investment board.

LEAP will provide start-up capital needed by these local workforce investment boards to develop specialized centers in 20 communities in California, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. The centers will be extensions of existing American Job Centers nearby and will work to better integrate available community services.

By providing a direct "hand-off" of transitioning offenders to their area's Job Center upon release, the newly released individual will receive follow-up, support and other services at a critical time to help guide them on a path toward a productive career and away from the risks that often return them to jail.

LEAP aligns closely with the principles driving President Obama's My Brother's Keeper initiative which seeks to address persistent opportunity gaps facing boys and young men of color and to ensure that all young people can realize their full potential.

In total, 20 grants of approximately $500,000 each were awarded to local workforce investment boards that have demonstrated partnerships with their county or municipal governments and their county, municipal, or regional correctional facilities.

Editor's note: A chart listing the grant recipients follows this release.

Grantee

City

State

Funding Amount

Alameda County Workforce Investment Board

Hayward

Calif.

$500,000

County of Orange, Orange County Workforce Investment Board

Santa Ana

Calif.

$500,000

San Diego Workforce Partnership, Inc.

San Diego

Calif.

$499,941

Ventura County Workforce Investment Board

Ventura

Calif.

$500,000

Workforce Alliance, Inc.

New Haven

Conn.

$500,000

CareerSource Palm Beach County

West Palm Beach

Fla.

$495,660

EmployIndy

Indianapolis

Ind.

$500,000

Regional Employment Board of Hampden County, Inc.

Springfield

Mass.

$500,000

Coastal Counties Workforce, Inc.

Brunswick

Maine

$500,000

Full Employment Council

Kansas City

Mo.

$500,000

St. Louis County Division Workforce Development

St. Louis

Mo.

$500,000

Workforce Investment Board of Herkimer, Madison and Oneida Counties

Utica

N.Y.

$500,000

Cleveland/Cuyahoga County Workforce Investment Board

Cleveland

Ohio

$497,846

Worksystems, Inc.

Portland

Ore.

$500,000

Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board, Inc.

Allentown

Pa.

$500,000

Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board

Norristown

Pa.

$500,000

Bay Consortium Workforce Investment Board

Warsaw

Va.

$500,000

The SkillSource Group, Inc.

Vienna

Va.

$500,000

Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board

Milwaukee

Wis.

$499,929

Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin

Madison

Wis.

$500,000

ETA News Release: 
06/04/2015
Media Contact Name: 

Jason Kuruvilla

Phone Number: 
Media Contact Name: 

David Roberts

Phone Number: 
Release Number: 
15-1117-NAT