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September 9, 2008: Today the Manhattan Institute is honored to participate in a press conference hosted by the City of Newark, U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL), and the State of New Jersey to announce a $5 million grant to support the City’s Prisoner Reentry Initiative. This initiative represents a new type of federal program—public and private partners working together to make Newark the nation’s first city to implement the proven Ready4Work approach to helping ex-offenders obtain and retain jobs. Newark’s Prisoner Reentry Initiative is a culmination of more than a year of joint efforts by the City of Newark, Nicholson Foundation, and the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research (MI).

Prisoner reentry is vital to reducing crime in cities. Every year, approximately 14,000 men and women are released from correctional facilities throughout New Jersey, nearly 65% of whom are re-arrested within five years. This new “rapid attachment to work” program will help reduce recidivism rates among men and women in Newark, which currently has the highest per capita number of parolees of all U.S. cities.

Spearheading MI’s effort in Newark is Richard Greenwald, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow on loan to Mayor Cory Booker’s administration. Greenwald, the longtime head of Philadelphia’s Transitional Work Corporation, has a long and successful track record with the ex-offender population. He is focusing on improving Newark’s ability to help formerly incarcerated individuals rejoin society by finding employment shortly after release, retaining employment, and developing relationships with their children and families. To foster these aims in Newark, he brought to Newark one of the nation’s most successful private job-placement agencies for low-income populations, America Works. In addition, he’s created a network of the leading national experts on prisoner reentry to help Newark both develop a successful reentry program—and to measure its results.

The Manhattan Institute has long been committed to finding ways of drawing the disadvantaged into the social and economic mainstream, through the time-honored American combination of free markets and personal initiative. And MI has worked to help cities improve their quality of life. These commitments came together in this project with the City of Newark, New Jersey, where we are helping to design and implement a strategy for a model prisoner-reentry program.

Mayor Booker’s reform agenda signals its intention to help ex-offenders in much the way that welfare reform—a major Manhattan Institute priority of the 1990s—helped welfare mothers: through “rapid attachment to work.” It is the understanding that ex-offenders transition back into society more easily, and are less likely to offend again, if they are presented with a job opportunity as soon after release as possible. The Manhattan Institute seeks to make the concept of “prison-to-work” as instantly recognizable as “welfare-to-work.”



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