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 Home > News & Policies > January 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 23, 2004

Fact Sheet: Protecting Communities by Helping Returning Inmates Find Work

Presidential Action:

In his State of the Union Address, President Bush proposed a four-year, $300 million initiative to reduce recidivism and the societal costs of reincarceration by helping inmates find work when they return to their communities. The President's initiative, contained in his FY 2005 budget, will harness the resources and experience of faith-based and community organizations (FBCOs) in helping returning inmates contribute to society.


Studies show that approximately two-thirds of ex-offenders are rearrested within three years of release, and the costs to the communities (particularly urban communities) of these crimes are large. This year, more than 600,000 adult inmates will complete their sentences and be released. To help ex-offenders stay away from crime, a substantial number of inner-city faith-based and community leaders have created resourceful programs. Working with business and service providers, these organizations provide job training, housing options, and transitional services that help ex-offenders contribute to their communities.

Program Specifics:

Working together, the Department of Labor (DOL), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Department of Justice (DOJ) would help ex-offenders find and keep employment, obtain transitional housing and receive mentoring -- the three key requirements for successful re-entry.

  • Employment: FBCOs would offer job training and job placement services in coordination with business and other employment providers.

  • Transitional housing: Grants would be available to organizations providing housing services or vouchers to individuals to partially subsidize transitional housing.

  • Mentoring: FBCOs would provide post-release mentoring and other services essential to reintegrating ex-offenders in coordination with the corrections, parole, and probation structure.

This proposal would expand on elements of a pilot project now underway at DOL (the Ready4Work Project). The groups participating in this pilot project have seen promising results: Exodus Transitional Community in East Harlem, NY was established five years ago by a group of ex-offenders. In 2002, Exodus served 213 ex-offenders with just six returning to prison. In 2003, Exodus served 290 with only three participants returning to prison.

The City of Memphis Second Chance Program was established three years ago by Mayor Willie E. Herenton. Second Chance has served over 1,500 ex-offenders over the past three years with only four returning to prison. This initiative will complement existing Administration efforts to mentor the children of prisoners. Last year $9 million was awarded to faith-based and community groups and the omnibus spending bill just passed by the Congress includes $50 million in additional funds.