A Second Chance at Success

by Secretary Hilda Solis on December 6, 2011 · 17 comments

A little more than two miles from the Department of Labor headquarters is a little-known entity tasked with a very big job—keeping the nation’s capital safe by helping formerly incarcerated persons turn their lives around.

The Re-Entry and Sanctions Center is run by a federal agency known as the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA). It’s housed in historic Karrick Hall—a building that was home to Washington D.C.’s first and only public hospital for nearly two centuries.

Today, it’s a residential facility that helps high-risk offenders and defendants get the counseling, support and tools they need for a productive reintegration into society.

Secretary Solis participates in a roundtable with 50 community activists, employers and faith leaders to discuss solutions for putting these returning citizens back to work.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to tour the facility and speak with many of the residents. Afterward, I sat down with 50 community activists, employers and faith leaders to discuss solutions for putting these returning citizens back to work.

People who’ve made a wrong turn deserve a second chance to contribute to our economy after paying their debt to society. Two out of three adults who serve time had a job before they went to jail, but incarceration can reduce their earning potential by 40 percent when they get out.

The emphasis at CSOSA is on accountability and opportunity. The professionals here agree that the majority of re-entrants leave incarceration desperately wanting a fresh, positive start. But that optimism can be frustrated if they lack a living wage, affordable housing and literacy skills. Without shelter, income and job training, recidivism is all too common.

Secretary Solis visits a classroom during her tour of the CSOSA facility.

Transitional programs like this one take a community-wide approach to ensuring the success of their residents. They form long-term partnerships with employers, non-profits, and faith-based organizations to provide a network of support in the areas of job training, placement and retention.

Here in the District, 211 faith institutions serve as mentors to our formerly incarcerated population, emphasizing family reunification, parenting classes, relapse prevention, job coaching and pro-social skills. During my visit, I met with countless success stories—people who have turned their lives around with the help of a community that cares. It was inspiring to see District of Columbia residents come together to make a difference in so many lives.

At the Department of Labor, one of the ways we’re committed to helping is by working with at-risk youth. We need our young people to see a positive future before they make a wrong turn. This summer, we announced the first-ever grant awards under our new Civic Justice Corps that works with young people who have served in the juvenile justice system. We’re giving them service opportunities and skills training so they can go back to school and pursue career pathways.

We have also initiated a summer jobs initiative to encourage employers across the country to provide part-time or summer employment to our youth. This program can also play a key role in keeping young people on the right track.

In San Francisco, we’re piloting a program called “Think Before You Ink.” As the program’s name indicates, many young people don’t think about the long-term impact that tattoos can have on their future employability. They learn the hard way as they leave the youth culture and look for a job. We hope to work with medical schools and dermatologists to replicate this pilot project on a national scale.

This summer, I wrote on this blog about the benefits of turning “tax takers” into taxpayers. After my visit to CSOSA this week, I believe more strongly than ever that community collaborations that integrate this underserved population back into the workforce are good for public safety, good for our economy and good common sense.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dr. Aaron D McCall December 6, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Thank you Madam Secretary for your insight into this problem. I appreciate your interest in this population. Your last statement needs to be communicated down to the local WIBs and made a prominent part of the WIA policy handed down to the states and vigorously enforced. Here in Alabama all of the workforce dollars are centralized through the Community College System and they refuse to partner with community service providers. Most of the Community Colleges are located in various metro areas that are far removed from the rural areas where the most need is. DOL needs to accommodate these areas through community based opportunities like the one in this article.

Sincerely, Dr. McCall

2 Nick Edward Barnes December 6, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Thank you for your submission regarding a home base support service available to a person for a variety of reasons.

I would suggest to provide a direct line of connectivity regarding the realization of a stability process regarding coping skills necessary to function to and toward a means of functionality. I stayed at TLC in Arizona for approximately 30 days out of 90 days in 2004 or 2005. My reasons were unique and not the same as every situation, but my path was potentially modest in comparison to certain situations.

I would suggest to contact TLC in Arizona, feel free and please reference that I stayed there for a period of time and will be forever grateful. When I was there, well, life is what it is…I met some people that I will honor, respect and never forget.

Sincerely yours,
Nick

3 Gregg December 7, 2011 at 9:16 am

Can i get a second chance Ms Solis and take back my whistleblower case for if i knew how bad OSHA was at protecting whistleblowers i would still have my job by turning a blind eye right?.
I think i deserve a second chance Ms Solis after all i’m not an ex-offender but an ex-employee for doing the right thing and steping up and reporting how my employer was knowingly renting unsafe machines to the public and indisputible company documentation given to OSHA prooving my accusations.
What about a second chance for the second whistleblower who came forward in my case for he served time in prision and was fired for protected activity?He also provided OSHA indisputible proof to OSHA.
Gregg S
PROUD NAVY DAD

4 Donna Cole December 7, 2011 at 10:48 am

For every one that leave a correctional facility to move on at a second chance – the benefit is two fold. It is not just that the individual becomes a contributor to society from paid taxes through earned income; they become a contributor by saved prison expenses. There is a large fiscal value to having small prison populations. If we, as a nation, could promote- change- the minds and hearts of at risk children; there would be much more capital, and sense of safety, for everyone.

5 admin December 7, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Sylvia,

Thank you for your interest in the DOL blog. Below are several resources that address employment for returning citizens. If you have additional questions, please feel free to reach out to our Employment and Training Adminstration (ETAPagemaster@dol.gov).

The 2011 version of the Employment Information Handbook can be found at:
http://www.bop.gov/inmate_programs/emp_info_handbk.pdf

A discussion of Prisoner Reentry Resources can be found at:
http://www.doleta.gov/RExO/PDF/Prisoner_Reentry_Resources.pdf

The Center for Employment Opportunities can be found at:
https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/168102.pdf

6 george washington December 8, 2011 at 9:10 pm

The fact is when you are applying for a job especially over the Internet as soon as you check have you ever been arrested or convicted of a misdemeanor or felony you have almost automatically been denied,they employers do not differentiate between an arrest or conviction and they do not differentiate between a felony or a misdemeanor in the NY times article april 2011 they mention 65million americans cannot get jobs because of background checks that has negative info Pres Obama theres plenty of jobs they are just structural barriers used to deny US citizens jobs enough is enough lets have smart policy to get americans back to,work

7 Regulation is NOT Law December 9, 2011 at 9:18 am

The war to preserve freedom somewhere in the world as a refuge from tyranny has been fought here against progressivism for 100 years. Progressives applauded the wonders of Soviet Russia under Stalin’s leadership, praised Mussolini, and named Adolph Hitler ‘Man of the Year” in 1938. The primary tool of progressivism is consolidation of the 3 fundamental authorities of government: lawmaking (legislative), executive (administrative), and judicial (dispute resolution). Administrative agencies are the engine that drives a wedge between governance and the People.

Article 1 of the US Constitution clearly states that THE (exclusive) legislative authority at the federal level, i.e. the power to make law, vests in Congress and NOT in the people who populate it. Legislators lack the power to transfer any portion of that lawmaking authority from the institution of Congress, although that is precisely the bluff that has derailed the United States’ republic for 100 years. All law-making power is supposed to be directly accountable to the people through elections, but none of us have ever cast a single ballot to elect the administrator of EPA, for instance. Furthermore, every regulation accomplishes only 1 thing: it creates a bully means–that masquerades as legitimate legal authority–for unelected bureaucrats to steal money from the target of the regulation. Across the country, we, and particularly business owners, must realize that regulation is NOT law.

Understand that Congress has nothing to do with regulation. Congress makes laws by passing bills, and the president may either sign those bills passed by Congress, thus converting the bills into laws, or veto any bill. Regulation, on the other hand, is written by the myriad administrative agencies which have been created by acts of Congress during the past 100 years (e.g. CFTC, FTC, EPA, OSHA, CPSC, TSA, FAA, FCC, etc.). That’s right–a total and blatant violation of the separation of powers doctrine inherent in the Constitution, i.e. the executive (administrative) branch has NOTHING to do with making laws, but ONLY with enforcing them. Furthermore, all members of the executive branch, whether they be police officers, governors, etc. are citizens of the United States first, and officers of the government second, which means that each of them must determine whether a law passed by the legislature (either Congress or a state legislature) is consistent with the Constitution (US and of the particular state). If not, don’t enforce it. We are ALL stewards of the Constitution first and foremost. Obviously, the same applies to regulation. None should be enforced, because the executive lacks any authority to create law or quasi-law, but it will take diligence and repetition for the truth to take hold.

8 Regulation is NOT Law December 9, 2011 at 10:00 am

Sylvia,
Perhaps the solution has nothing to do with a stupid government department. How can you blame an employer for deciding not to hire a person with a criminal history? In the modern, progressive, litigatious society, the assumption is that if an issue arises with an employee and precipitates a lawsuit, the EMPLOYER, ridiculously, is held liable and criminal background is considered. What’s needed is to end government interferences in the private sector, including permiting, to reduce the cost of starting a business so that everyone including persons released from prison can be SELF-SUFFICIENT merely by exercising entrepreneurism.

9 Regulation is NOT Law December 9, 2011 at 10:09 am

Regulators possess NO legitimate authority, and government cannot compel employers to serve as tax collectors through tax withholding schemes like FICA. We should work diligently throughout the country to find small towns that still understand the principles of our nation’s founding. Draft declarations to present to city councils that announce that all persons within the jurisdiction of the council have the natural right to opt out of social security, and can sign their names to officially maintained lists, copies of which will be presented to local employers. Townsfolk must be willing to pledge to defend any business that experiences harassment from government regulators. This is a really simple idea, but each individual must realize his or her inherent political power. Administrative agencies exercise fiat authority and must be resisted by concerted opposition of the People.

10 Christy December 9, 2011 at 11:46 am

THE FEDERAL BONDING PROGRAM CAN ALSO HELP :
The Federal Bonding Program provides fidelity bonding for the first six months of employment for hard-to-place job applicants. If you are seeking bonding services and/or a job you should call the following toll-free number for 1. the location of the workforce office/one-stop center nearest your home and, 2. the telephone number of the State Bonding Coordinator for your state. In those states without a state bonding coordinator, callers will be referred to the nearest career center/ one-stop center for employment assistance.

Call toll free: 1.877.US2.JOBS (1.877.872.5627)
http://www.bonds4jobs.com

11 Regulation is NOT Law December 9, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Does anyone else find it peculiar that comments have to be approved before they post to a blog administered by a (purportedly) government institution? The Bill of rights would more properly be described as a bill of promises: the natural/inherent rights of, for instance, free speech, are protected from infringement as a consequence of exercising any power of GOVERNMENT. However, posts must receive approval before they will appear on this blog, which is a clear interference with speech. I posted a comment at 9:18am regarding the nature of law and of regulation and for some reason, that comment still has not received approval…

12 L.M.C. December 10, 2011 at 11:39 am

Thank you Madam Secretary for being involved in this vital need in our communities. In NW Ohio our organization, Abri Family Serives, partnered with the Reentry Coalition of NW Ohio to wrap services around those released from incarceration. Providing the evidence based practice of helping our participants change the way they think to more positive and productive manner, along with walking the participant step by step through the local Workforce (WIA) programs has enabled our coalition to report a significant decrease in recidivism.

13 Regulation is NOT LAW December 12, 2011 at 8:28 am

Article 1 of the US Constitution clearly states that THE (exclusive) legislative authority at the federal level, i.e. the power to make law, vests in Congress and NOT in the people who populate it. Legislators lack the power to transfer any portion of that lawmaking authority from the institution of Congress, although that is precisely the bluff that has derailed the United States’ republic for 100 years. All law-making power is supposed to be directly accountable to the people through elections, but none of us have ever cast a single ballot to elect the administrator of EPA, for instance. Furthermore, every regulation accomplishes only 1 thing: it creates a bully means–that masquerades as legitimate legal authority–for unelected bureaucrats to steal money from the target of the regulation. Across the country, we, and particularly business owners, must realize that regulation is NOT law.

Understand that Congress has nothing to do with regulation. Congress makes laws by passing bills, and the president may either sign those bills passed by Congress, thus converting the bills into laws, or veto any bill. Regulation, on the other hand, is written by the myriad administrative agencies which have been created by acts of Congress during the past 100 years (e.g. CFTC, FTC, EPA, OSHA, CPSC, TSA, FAA, FCC, etc.). That’s right–a total and blatant violation of the separation of powers doctrine inherent in the Constitution, i.e. the executive (administrative) branch has NOTHING to do with making laws, but ONLY with enforcing them. Furthermore, all members of the executive branch, whether they be police officers, governors, etc. are citizens of the United States first, and officers of the government second, which means that each of them must determine whether a law passed by the legislature (either Congress or a state legislature) is consistent with the Constitution (US and of the particular state). If not, don’t enforce it. We are ALL stewards of the Constitution first and foremost. Obviously, the same applies to regulation. None should be enforced, because the executive lacks any authority to create law or quasi-law, but it will take diligence and repetition for the truth to take hold.

14 Regulation is NOT Law December 13, 2011 at 9:55 am

The struggle to preserve freedom somewhere in the world as a refuge from tyranny has been fought here against progressivism for 100 years. Progressives applauded the wonders of Soviet Russia under Stalin’s leadership, praised Mussolini, and named Adolph Hitler ‘Man of the Year” in 1938. The primary tool of progressivism is consolidation of the 3 fundamental authorities of government: lawmaking (legislative), executive (administrative), and judicial (dispute resolution). Administrative agencies are the engine that drives a wedge between governance and the People.

Article 1 of the US Constitution clearly states that THE (exclusive) legislative authority at the federal level, i.e. the power to make law, vests in Congress and NOT in the people who populate it. Legislators lack the power to transfer any portion of that lawmaking authority from the institution of Congress, although that is precisely the bluff that has derailed the United States’ republic for 100 years. All law-making power is supposed to be directly accountable to the people through elections, but none of us have ever cast a single ballot to elect the administrator of EPA, for instance. Furthermore, every regulation accomplishes only 1 thing: it creates a bully means–that masquerades as legitimate legal authority–for unelected bureaucrats to steal money from the target of the regulation. Across the country, we, and particularly business owners, must realize that regulation is NOT law.

Understand that Congress has nothing to do with regulation. Congress makes laws by passing bills, and the president may either sign those bills passed by Congress, thus converting the bills into laws, or veto any bill. Regulation, on the other hand, is written by the myriad administrative agencies which have been created by acts of Congress during the past 100 years (e.g. CFTC, FTC, EPA, OSHA, CPSC, TSA, FAA, FCC, etc.). That’s right–a total and blatant violation of the separation of powers doctrine inherent in the Constitution, i.e. the executive (administrative) branch has NOTHING to do with making laws, but ONLY with enforcing them. Furthermore, all members of the executive branch, whether they be police officers, governors, etc. are citizens of the United States first, and officers of the government second, which means that each of them must determine whether a law passed by the legislature (either Congress or a state legislature) is consistent with the Constitution (US and of the particular state). If not, don’t enforce it. We are ALL stewards of the Constitution first and foremost. Obviously, the same applies to regulation. None should be enforced, because the executive lacks any authority to create law or quasi-law, but it will take diligence and repetition for the truth to take hold.

15 F MacPhee December 24, 2011 at 1:21 pm

The information provided here is easy to understand and gives practical advice to those who find themselves in financial difficulty. So many people get so overwhelmed by their situation that they can’t organize their thoughts enough to plan a strategy out of their situation. It is sites like these that play an integral role in getting these people and this nation back on track.

16 Pam Hogan, MCJ April 25, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Having classes in high school that address these challenges would be wise. Far too many youth are unaware of the roadblocks they are erecting for their adult selves. It may be a badge of honor in the neighborhood to have a criminal record, but getting a job with a criminal record is not the conversation that is often had on those same streets.

17 Paul McTony December 11, 2013 at 4:04 am

Quote: “They learn the hard way as they leave the youth culture and look for a job. We hope to work with medical schools and dermatologists to replicate this pilot project on a national scale.”

I really like the project like that. The youth need a job and they always looking for a suitable job for their career. I love to live in the country like that. I love USA.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: