‘work for Success’ Giving Ex- Felons Second Chance

Program Gives Opportunities Upon Release

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced updated placement numbers and other significant accomplishments in connecting formerly incarcerated men and women to jobs since launching the Work For Success program two years ago.

The pilot program, which has had 1,015 businesses hire a total of 1,646 formerly incarcerated people to date, will now transition to a standard state-wide model for how public safety and employment agencies engage the formerly incarcerated.

“Under the Work for Success initiative, we are developing stronger, safer communities while encouraging economic and job growth,” said Cuomo. “Providing training and jobs to formerly incarcerated New Yorkers not only reduces rates of recidivism, but also strengthens families, stabilizes local communities and jumpstarts local economies. The success of our pilot program has set a strong foundation for future participants, and we will continue to work with employers across the state to provide opportunities for those New Yorkers working to rebuild their lives.”

Since its inception in 2012, Work For Success has worked to improve the process by which those who have served time in prison are trained and are connected to businesses looking to hire. The initiative matches selected higher and lower risk individuals to the right employment program after incarceration. In turn, New York businesses gain qualified and appropriately trained applicants, at no cost to them, along with tax credits and access to federal bonding for those that hire.

Additionally, preparing and connecting formerly incarcerated individuals to jobs saves businesses and taxpayers’ money and helps local and regional economies thrive. The overall goal is to curb recidivism by reducing poverty and joblessness among the formerly incarcerated.

Accomplishments to date

The governor launched Work For Success in February 2012 to identify strategies to promote productive employment for formerly incarcerated people. He tasked the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and the Department of Labor to work directly with community based organizations led by Center for Employment Opportunities to develop a comprehensive state-wide approach that provide job skills and other training to the formerly incarcerated.

At the 2-year anniversary of the program, Work For Success has led to a paradigm shift in how New York State assists the formally incarcerated and connects them to jobs. It has specifically:

– developed and implemented client matching;

– launched an offender employment specialist program (OES);

– created a partnerships to identify key job openings;

– launched inter-agency vocational training;

– created resume templates for all applicants

– improved accessibility of vital records;

– launched a state-wide public education & outreach program; and

– increased accessibility of services.

“Working with our partners at the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and in the community, we have built a successful infrastructure to help formerly incarcerated individuals find a job,” said State Labor Commissioner Peter M. Rivera. “A job is vital to dramatically reducing the risk that these individuals will return to prison. We recommend that business owners and hiring managers to explore how Work For Success can help their business.”

“When an inmate enters our system we begin the mandatory evaluation to determine the programs, education and training that will best prepare them to return home under supportive supervision and less likely to revert to criminal behavior,” added Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Acting Commissioner Anthony J Annucci. “When they are successful it is a win for the offender and for the state.”

In 2013, New York was recognized for its groundbreaking work pairing the formerly incarcerated with employment by the United States Department of Labor, the United States Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Annie E. Casey Foundation at a national conference on bridging reentry and workforce development.

New York State maintains its dedication to helping all individuals connect to jobs-especially those who face barriers to employment.

As part of the transition from a series of pilot efforts into a new standardized and statewide program of matching the right individuals to the right programs, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and the Department of Labor are now working together to ensure that inmates and parolees have the skills they need to obtain jobs and the opportunities they need to find jobs in the community.

Further, New York State was awarded one of six grants nationally to upgrade and improve its vocational culinary arts programming and its computer support training programs. A culinary arts program is now underway in seven prison facilities focusing on employment skills needed to work in the Accommodations and Food Services sector and a program to train inmates in computer services is now operational in five facilities.

Efforts will focus on offenders who are considered at higher risk for recidivism and have an identified need for both employment services and an interest in these types of jobs.

Employers interested in learning more about the tax credits and the hiring program should visit www.workforsuccess.ny.gov or call 1-888-469-7365.

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