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Faith-Based and Community Initiatives

Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative

"America is the land of second chance, and when the gates of the prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life."
-- President George W. Bush, 2004 State of the Union Address

Each year more than 650,000 men and women return from prison. Department of Justice studies of this population indicate that almost two-thirds of those individuals will return to prison within three years of release, many within the first few months. In 2004, President Bush announced his Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative (PRI) designed to assist ex-prisoners and the communities to which they return. Through this program, returning offenders are linked to faith-based and community institutions that help ex-prisoners find work and avoid a relapse into a life of criminal activity. Currently there are 30 PRI grantees across the country that are providing mentoring, employment and other transitional services to thousands of ex-inmates. As of November 9, 2007, 10,361 PRI participants have been enrolled in the program and 6,035 participants have been placed into jobs. PRI participants’ one-year post-release recidivism rate is currently less than half the national average recidivism rate.

The Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative grew out of the Department of Labor’s Ready4Work project which provided mentoring and other transition services for men and women returning from prison in partnership with faith-based and community organizations. This $25 million program was jointly funded by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the U.S. Department of Justice, and a consortium of private foundations. Recently released findings show that Ready4Work participants returned to prison at rates 44 percent lower than the 10.4 percent national rate of re-incarceration after one year of release.

On November 27-28, 2007 the White House hosted the first Prisoner Reentry Summit in Los Angeles, CA. Over 1,000 representatives from non-profit community organizations gathered for two days of training and workshops, joining leaders from both the private and public sectors, including White House FBCI Director Jay Hein and Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao. Highlighting the key role of FBCOs in helping ex-inmates to build successful lives, Chao stated, "We know that the long-term financial costs of re-incarceration far exceed the cost of reentry programs. But that isn't even the most important reason. The heaviest cost is the loss of human dignity when people are living lives of poverty, addiction, and despair. We must -- and we can -- break that cycle. And faith-based and community organizations posses unique and invaluable strengths to help us reach out to those most in need."