04.15.08

Reed and Whitehouse Announce $130,000 for Prisoner Reentry Initiative

WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to help female ex-offenders find jobs and transition back into the community, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today announced that the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RIDOC) will receive a two-year $134,434 federal award for its Prisoner Reentry Initiative. This federal funding will be used by RIDOC to provide sentenced female offenders with job placement assistance, job retention, and job coaching as well as mentoring-related services.

“This federal funding will allow the Rhode Island Department of Corrections to strengthen its prisoner reentry program for women,” said Reed, a member of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees federal spending of criminal justice system programs. “Every year, hundreds of women are released from Rhode Island’s prison system. Helping these women develop the skills they need to find steady jobs, regain their self-respect, and reconnect with their families, gives them the opportunity to successfully transition back into society. This grant will help safeguard our communities, save taxpayers’ money, and reduce the chances that these women will wind up back in jail.”

“Once inmates serve their sentences and reenter society, it’s important that they be able to contribute to their communities and begin to rebuild their lives positively and productively,” said Whitehouse, a former U.S. Attorney and Attorney General for Rhode Island. “This targeted job training, job placement, and transitional housing support helps ex-offenders get back on their feet – and reduces recidivism, which makes our neighborhoods safer.”

In March, Senators Reed and Whitehouse helped pass the Second Chance Act, legislation that will strengthen programs such as the Prison Reentry Initiative. The bill was recently signed into law and will reduce recidivism by coordinating reentry services and criminal justice policies at the federal, state, and local level. Reed also signed a letter of support for funding of the Adult and Juvenile Offender State and Local Reentry Demonstration Projects in fiscal year 2009. Former female inmates face many barriers when reentering society, including lack of employment, education, and housing; histories of abuse; and the need for child care and parenting guidance. Actively engaging former inmates in comprehensive reentry programs helps address these issues and prevent them from returning to a life of crime.

“We are committed to addressing the special challenges facing female offenders as they leave prison and reintegrate into the community. Finding employment is often the most critical factor in the ability to break the cycle and avoid the downward cycle that brought them to prison in the first place. Coming on the heels of the authorization of the Second Chance Act, this grant will enable us to augment the important work we have already begun,” stated Ashbel (A.T.) Wall II, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections.

The Prisoner Reentry Initiative (PRI), which is administered by the U.S. Department of Justice, provides funding to state and local governments to develop and implement institutional and community corrections-based female offender reentry programs. The PRI strengthens urban communities characterized by large numbers of returning offenders. The program is designed to help prevent ex-convicts from returning to a life of crime by helping them find work and providing them access to critical services in their communities.

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