Feb 1, 2011

Four Reentry Recommendations from Malcolm Young

In his blog post on The Open Foundation Society's blog yesterday entitled, "Unlocking Opportunity for People Leaving Prison", Malcolm Young, Director of the Program for Prison Reentry Strategies at the Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern University School of Law and a 2010 Soros Justice Fellow, articulates four reentry strategies principles that should guide reentry planning.  These strategies deal with the the realities of the labor market and the obstacles inherent in returning formerly incarcerated individuals to the same communities they left.

1.To address the shortage of public funding for reentry programming, work-related programs should engage private business in the design, delivery, funding, and follow-up to their reentry programming. Businesses are best equipped to define their future workforce requirements. And as it stands, businesses spend a lot of money on training. If corrections provides training that is a benefit to employers and industries, it seems reasonable that the beneficiaries might share the cost.

2. To be relevant in a highly competitive labor market and to gain public support, reentry programs should target jobs in new and expanding businesses where there is not yet a trained work force competing for those jobs.

3. Because most prisoners have no choice but to return to their old neighborhoods, reentry programs should play an active role in helping to build positive communities. Employment reentry programs should work hand-in-hand with programs that advance community and economic development (and should be funded with a portion of the considerable federal, state, and local funds now spent on community development projects).

4. To replicate the success of people like Louis Sawyer, corrections should put a priority on designing and implementing holistic reentry programs that build on strengths, foster motivation, and substantively prepare and connect people leaving prison to particular jobs in advance of their release.