I am glad that more attention is being paid to reintegrating ex-offenders in to the workplace.  The story below from the Washington Post highlights a major gift in this area.

There will be disagreements about who is getting that money and how that money is being used, but the overall goal of getting ex-offenders back in to the workforce should be applauded.  While supporting second changes, CDIA opposes those special interests that wish to take away an employer’s ability to run a full, fair, complete, and legal credit or criminal background check.  Ex-offenders need more training, employers need to be mindful of those looking to get back in the workforce and have incentives to assist them, and employers should have everything about the applicant in front of them to make the best, safest hiring decision possible. 

In today’s Metro section of the Washington Post, is a story about the co-founders of Total Wine, a DC-area wine and beer super store chain, who donated $15 million to the ACLU “to expand a campaign to cut prison populations and promote private initiatives to rehabilitate and employ ex-convicts”.  David and June Trone “join a growing cadre of wealthy business­people funding a coalition of liberal, conservative and libertarian groups pushing the Obama administration and Congress to unwind sentencing laws from the era of the drug war.”  Total Wine supports the ban-the-box movement.  David Trone said “’Yes, people make mistakes…[b]ut if they paid the price and now want to build a better life, why should that mistake have to carry with them the rest of their lives?’”

The Post noted that “[t]he six-year bequest will establish the Trone Center for Criminal Justice and boost state-level projects — including ones in the District, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Indiana — where incarceration rates and the prospect of bipartisan cooperation are greatest, said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU.”  The article adds that “David Trone will chair a new private-sector advisory council that will include business and university leaders. The council will promote efforts to return former prisoners to the workforce and reduce the stigma of employing past offenders [and i]t also may consider the value of education and economic incentives such as tax credits for workers and companies.”

“Adam Gelb, director of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ public safety performance project, said the ACLU initiative underscores how far the criminal justice debate has shifted as policymakers research ways ‘to stop the revolving door of prisons.’  He said 31 states have launched research-based corrections reforms since 2007. But a neglected piece is post-prison supervision, he said, which accounts for pennies on every tax dollar spent for public safety, even though far more offenders have left prison than remain behind bars.”  Gelb added that “’[o]ffender reentry and supervision has long been the stepchild of the criminal justice system in attention and resources, so every bit of focus like this can make a real difference’”.