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12/23/2015

Gov. Malloy Announces First-of-its-Kind Jobs Training Center at New Haven Correctional Center to Further Lower Crime Rates

(HARTFORD, CT) - Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that as part of his Second Chance Society initiatives, the Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC) will host an American Job Center early next year within the New Haven Correctional Center.  Created in partnership with the Workforce Alliance and the City of New Haven, this job development program will be the first-of-its-kind in the state, and one of only 12 in the country.  The initiative aims to reduce recidivism - which has declined dramatically - and to continue lowering Connecticut's crime rate, which is at an almost 50-year low.

"We need to break the cycle of crime and poverty - that's our goal with Second Chance. We must give people the tools available to get a good job and be successful outside prison walls. If we are to be successful in lowering crime, we must ensure that those housed in our correctional facilities don't come back," Governor Malloy said.  "This is a first-of-its-kind jobs center at one of our correctional facilities, and one of only 12 in the country.  Correctional facilities should be just that - places that give inmates the ability to be successful on the outside.  FBI data indicates that Connecticut's crime rate is at its lowest level in almost 50 years, and by implementing these types of forward-thinking initiatives, we can drive it even lower."

The American Job Center will serve to provide workshops, job search services, and referrals to a goal of 175 prison inmates within six months prior to the end of their sentence.  Three staffers will assist with teaching and community outreach on behalf of the inmates. The program will be run by Workforce Alliance, a nonprofit organization that provides workforce opportunity and job training skills to 30 communities throughout the South Central Connecticut region, in conjunction with the Department of Correction.  The 18-month project is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration as one of 12 LEAP (Linking to Employment Activities Pre-release) grantees under the Reintegration of Ex-Offenders (REXO) initiative.

"A key component to successful reentry for those returning to the community after a period of incarceration is employment," Department of Correction Commissioner Scott Semple said.  "That is exactly why collaborative efforts such as the one we have with Workforce Alliance are so important to our efforts to reduce recidivism."

Inmates will be selected to participate in the program and an individual plan will be developed for them to deliver successful outcomes.  Inmates will receive training on how to interview for a job, prepare a cover letter and resume, apply for college financial aid, and apply for a job using online applications.  They will also receive instruction on basic math, writing, and computer skills needed to make themselves more employable.

An existing classroom is currently being set up at the correctional facility for this program, which will also include a room to conduct practice interviews.

The jobs center is based on the Workforce Alliance's Next Steps Re-Entry program, which the organization has offered to former inmates over the last ten years.  This will be the first time this type of program has been offered inside of a correctional facility to current inmates.

Annually, Next Steps places approximately 170 ex-offenders in employment throughout the South Central Connecticut region.  The American Jobs Center at the New Haven Correctional Center will provide current inmates with a head start on trainings prior to leaving DOC custody.

"Ex-offenders make good employees," William Villano, President and CEO of Workforce Alliance, said.  "We have done over 1560 job placements for ex-offenders since 2003.  More employers every year see the value of programs like ours and now we can begin to work with people much sooner."

"Reintegration of non-violent offenders is a priority in New Haven because it reunites families, rebuilds trust and faith, and restores men and women to contributing, productive members of this community," New Haven Mayor Toni N. Harp said.  "Beyond that, we're working to start the reintegration process well before any scheduled release, so job training programs can be arranged as necessary and appropriate, and we're grateful to Governor Malloy and the state for assistance to that end."

Earlier this year, Governor Malloy enacted the Second Chance Society initiatives through a series of executive actions and adopted legislation.  The package of reforms was designed to continue the progress the state has been making in reducing the crime rate, as well as to ensure that nonviolent offenders are being reintegrated into society and are becoming productive members of Connecticut's economy.  These included initiatives such as:

  • Reducing possession of drugs from a felony with a seven-year minimum sentence to a misdemeanor with a maximum one year in jail.
  • Eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent, no victim offenses.
  • Establishing an expedited parole process for nonviolent, no victim offenses.
  • Establishing an expedited pardons process for nonviolent ex-offenders, where there is no victim objection.
  • Opening the Cybulski Community Reintegration Center at the Willard-Cybulski Correctional Institution in Enfield, designed to concentrate appropriate programs and services to prisoners nearing the end of their sentences.

Last month, Governor Malloy announced the establishment of a Veterans' Unit at the Cybulski Reintegration Center, specifically providing services to inmates who have served in the United States military that are tailored to their specific needs while addressing barriers to successful reentry.

Today, Connecticut's prison population is at its lowest level since 1997 with 15,695 inmates.  The total sentenced population is 11,831, the lowest level since 1994.

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