Washington, DC - Thursday, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) announced a new initiative to work directly with interested employers seeking to hire newly-released inmates. Through the “Ready to Work” initiative, the BOP seeks to connect employers directly to inmates to improve reentry outcomes. This initiative is part of the BOP’s holistic approach to implementation of the First Step Act, which was enacted in December 2018 and seeks to reduce recidivism among federal offenders.
“The Justice Department is committed to fully implementing the First Step Act,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “This includes helping offenders successfully reintegrate into the community – a critical factor in preventing recidivism and, in turn, reducing the number of crime victims. Finding gainful employment is an important part of that process.”
The “Ready to Work” initiative aims to secure every offender reentering his or her community an opportunity to quickly secure employment. This includes the approximately 2,200 inmates scheduled for early release due to good conduct on July 19, 2019, after changes in the First Step Act become effective.
The BOP has long recognized that inmates benefit from a variety of self-improvement programs. Federal inmates participate in vocational training, educational classes, and skills groups – all of which contribute to employment readiness and helps to develop high-quality employees. At the same time, businesses are struggling to find qualified employees due to historically low unemployment rates.
“Newly-released individuals can provide an untapped source of qualified employees for businesses having difficulty hiring during this strong economy,” said Acting BOP Director Hugh Hurwitz. “The BOP is working to strengthen existing, and build new, partnerships with businesses across the country to ensure that inmates have solid employment opportunities upon release.”
Every day, the BOP releases hundreds of individuals into communities throughout the country, and employment plays a critical role in successful reentry and recidivism reduction. Studies have shown that individuals released from incarceration who found prompt employment were less likely to recidivate.
Prior to release, many individuals will have utilized BOP occupational training programs that produce skilled workers in a variety of professional fields, such as HVAC (heating, ventilation and air condition) systems, plumbing, masonry, aquiculture, computers and technology, carpentry, cosmetology, medical billing and food preparation, among other fields. But even those who do not qualify as skilled workers will have participated in BOP’s educational classes and self-improvement programming designed to improve community reintegration and contributes to employment success.