It is no secret that finding a job, let alone a career, is a difficult task for anyone. College graduates, high school graduates and even people with job experience have trouble but still have an advantage over those who are unemployed, underemployed or inexperienced.
Fortunately, Congress passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) in 2013 to fund state programs in employment and training programs (ETP). These programs are vital to developing those individuals, young and old, develop the necessary skills to succeed. Reformed prisoners are a target audience of these programs. We all deserve a second chance and so do those individuals who admit that they have made mistakes and are determined to correct their ways while positively contributing to society.
Hudson County in New Jersey has two programs that have partnered with the National Career Institute to assist adults and youth to develop technical training. One nonprofit is the Project Urban Suburban Environments (U.S.E.) aimed for out-of-school youth during the summer. Like the title of the article states, these programs are about opening doors for those who may have thought that those doors have been closed due to some past choices. Programs like the ETP and U.S.E. are very important to those inexperienced people and reformed felons. Felons often reenter the prison system because they have so few options to succeed financially. They are often discriminated against because of their criminal record and are only able to obtain part-time jobs that offer minimum wage. The funding for these programs are very minimal, unfortunately. According to the Hudson Reporter, ETP are constantly changing to fit the goals of the grant and end quickly, so it is hard to see which programs are effective since they constantly change and end so quickly. In order to succeed, politics have to be bipartisan because according to former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, incarceration costs $55,000/year while implementing training programs can cost a tenth of the cost. Receiving a GED or what is now being called a HSED (High School Equivalency Diploma), is a great starting point for the unemployed, underemployed, or reformed felons, but necessary skills are just as important if not more. Implementing these ETP for those individuals needs to be tested for a longer duration to see the effectiveness of them and to see if it leads to better outcomes for the targeted audience.
The more people become qualified for success in an ever-evolving workforce, the better the economy is with fewer federal spending going towards prisons and housing prisoners. With the United States government passing more programs to assist reformed felons like the WIOA, federal spending is more cyclical than a one-way street.