Q What message would you have for employers who perhaps would like to give people like the folks you’re meeting with today a second chance?
THE PRESIDENT: “Well, many of the people sitting at this table described with incredible gratitude the employers who did give them that chance. And what I think employers will find is that if they are willing to look past mistakes that often were made when these individuals were 20, 21, 23, and now they are older and more mature, you’ll end up getting really hard, really loyal workers.
And I’ve heard that repeatedly from employers, that if they are willing to take a chance on somebody, they will be rewarded by somebody who is grateful and will go above and beyond the call of duty. But unfortunately, we have a lot of barriers in a lot of companies. This is part of the reason why, at the federal level, we have instituted a banning of the box. Because so often, that prevents somebody from even meeting a felon, because all they see is there’s a record there, and don’t have a chance to hear somebody’s story and get a measure of the man or the woman and their ability to do the job.
I am very supportive of us generally eliminating that as a screening function. I think employers are going to have to continue to recognize that there are some particular issues surrounding persons who are ex-offenders that may have to be accommodated. They may have to meet with their probation officer occasionally and so forth.
But uniformly, when I’ve talked to employers who take a chance — and that includes, by the way, this establishment, which is one of the reasons that we decided to have lunch here, Busboys and Poets — burger was excellent. (Laughter.) But what is also true is, is that they’ve given a number of ex-offenders a chance and do not screen using that box to find out at the front end whether somebody should get an interview or now.
What they’ll find is they will get somebody who is driven and understands how precious it is just to have a chance to be useful and to do good work. And the kindness that employers show I think will be returned many fold. So I hope that that’s a practice among private sector employers and public sector employers that begins to spread. ”
FACT SHEET: President Obama Announces New Actions to Promote Rehabilitation and Reintegration for the Formerly- Incarcerated
This Administration has consistently taken steps to make our criminal justice system fairer and more effective and to address the vicious cycle of poverty, criminality, and incarceration that traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities. Today, in Newark, New Jersey, President Obama will continue to promote these goals by highlighting the reentry process of formerly-incarcerated individuals and announce new actions aimed at helping Americans who’ve paid their debt to society rehabilitate and reintegrate back into their communities.
Each year, more than 600,000 individuals are released from state and federal prisons. Advancing policies and programs that enable these men and women to put their lives back on track and earn their second chance promotes not only justice and fairness, but also public safety. That is why this Administration has taken a series of concrete actions to reduce the challenges and barriers that the formerly incarcerated confront, including through the work of the Federal Interagency Reentry Council, a cabinet-level working group to support the federal government’s efforts to promote public safety and economic opportunity through purposeful cross-agency coordination and collaboration.
Obama visit spotlights Integrity House’s 50-year fight against addiction
November 1, 2015 Kelly Heyboer – nj
NEWARK — Every year, Integrity House welcomes about 2,400 guests at the doors of its treatment facilities.
On Monday, it will welcome its most famous guest yet—President Barack Obama.
Unlike most of the people who pass through Integrity House’s facilities in Newark, Obama is not looking for help with an addiction. He is visiting the non-profit rehabilitation organization to highlight its work with drug- and alcohol-addicted criminals.
Obama will meet with several Intergrity House clients trying to kick their addictions and change their lives, said Robert J. Budsock, Integrity House’s chief executive officer.
Integrity House provides the opportunity for people to reclaim their lives.
Established in 1968, Integrity House offers a full continuum of care for individuals with substance use disorders. It is a carefully managed, highly effective treatment community. We are committed to serving individuals and families to make sustainable life-style changes.
Program levels include: long term residential, intensive short term residential, outpatient, and supportive housing. Integrated treatment includes co-occuring services as well as medication assisted support as needed. Varied levels of care allow placement of individuals in flexible programs that best fit their needs.
Integrity House is the largest treatment facility funded and licensed by the State of New Jersey.
Serving second chances: NYC food truck hires ex-inmates
October 31, 2015 By VERENA DOBNIK – AP
NEW YORK (AP) — Even amid New York City’s eclectic food trucks, Snowday’s concept is unusual: “gourmet lumberjack,” a farm-to-table menu with maple syrup-drizzled grilled cheese sandwiches, seasoned pork ribs and fresh vegetables.
But that’s not all that sets it apart. Snowday is staffed by young men and women who have spent time behind bars, most of them in the city’s notoriously violent Rikers Island jail.
“I always wanted to work on a food truck. I always wanted to be that person at the grill,” says Darius Jones, a 23-year-old from Harlem with a history of street fighting, one of about two dozen former inmates who have gone through the program over the last two years.
Jones was hired out of a halfway house by Snowday’s founder, Jordyn Lexton, a former teacher at Rikers who grew frustrated seeing some of the same young people she taught returning to jail over and over again.
Lexton, 29, left Rikers in 2012 and founded the nonprofit Drive Change, which uses the food truck to teach the formerly incarcerated cooking, hospitality, money management and even emotional development to prepare them for re-entry into the job market.
“I witnessed a system that did not do much to help young people rehabilitate,” Lexton said. “One of the few places in the jail where my students were really happy was in the culinary arts class, with the power of teamwork, camaraderie and a shared meal.”
The program capitalizes on that interest and adds the discipline of a competitive business. At Drive Change‘s headquarters in Brooklyn, a small, busy kitchen serves as what Lexton calls a “a living classroom.” In addition to learning to cook, employees engage in sessions that reinforce the qualities of a successful life: trust, love, respect for others and self-reflection.
“I became a man, in control of myself,” Jones says of the program. “I was needed, I was wanted, I was loved.”
Three Snowday “fellows” — as the program calls them — have gone on to jobs at food service or catering companies. One works for the Metropolitan Transit Authority and another has gone to college.
“When it comes to access to opportunity, these young people have had streets ahead of them paved with red lights, stop signs, dead ends, do-not-enters,” Lexton said. “And our goal is to pave the future with all green lights.”
For more: http://goo.gl/PAS0Rx
“Supporting successful reentry is an essential part of the Justice Department’s mission to promote public safety — because by helping individuals return to productive, law-abiding lives, we can reduce crime across the country and make our neighborhoods better places to live.
“An important part of that task is preparing those who have paid their debt to society for substantive opportunities beyond the prison gates, and addressing obstacles to successful reentry that too many returning citizens encounter.”
– Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch
National Reentry Week Announcement
- National Reentry Resource Center
- Federal Interagency Reentry Council
- Reentering Your Community: A Handbook, Federal Bureau of Prisons
- Fair Chance Business Pledge
- Federal Interagency Reentry Council Fact Sheet
- Bureau of Prisons Reentry Fact Sheet
- Fair Chance Business Pledge | The White House
- FACT SHEET: White House Launches the Fair Chance Higher …
- Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Reform
- Criminal Justice Reform: Breaking the Cycle of Drug Use and Crime
- Reintegration of Ex-Offenders – Adult Program (RExO) website
- ERIC – Reintegration of Juvenile Offenders
- 11/8/12 President Barack Obama supports voting rights for ex-offenders
- 11/2/15 Remarks by President Obama on Criminal Justice Reform
- 1/25/16 New Policies Addressing Bureau of Prisons’s Use of Restrictive Housing & Solitary Confinement
- 3/30/16 Remarks by the President on Commutations of Prison Sentences
- 3/31/16 White House Briefing on Life After Clemency
- 4/11/16 FACT SHEET: White House Launches the Fair Chance Business Pledge
- 4/23/16 Weekly Address: Building a Fairer and More Effective Criminal Justice System
- 6/24/16 FACT SHEET: President Obama Announces New Actions to Reduce Recidivism and Promote Reintegration of Formerly Incarcerated Individuals
- 6/30/16 FACT SHEET: Launching the Data-Driven Justice Initiative: Disrupting the Cycle of Incarceration
November 2, 2015
President Obama is joined by Sen. Cory Booker and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka
for a discussion of reforming the criminal justice and how formerly incarcerated individuals rejoin society
Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey