Individuals released from prison should mark the beginning of a new chapter. However, for many, this chapter is tainted by the common stigma attached to having a criminal record. The process of reintegrating into society is met with many challenges. One of the biggest obstacles is finding and securing employment. First, they have to deal with the preconceived notions attached to them from recently being in prison. The second challenge is not having the skillsets needed to get hired. This is why services like an employment assistance program are vital in helping individuals find a job.
Second Chances Benefit from Zero Judgment
You can’t define a person solely based on their past. Society tends to judge former inmates unfairly, defining them by their mistakes rather than recognizing their potential for change and growth. This negative stereotype makes it challenging for individuals with a criminal record to find employment, further perpetuating a cycle of unemployment and financial instability.
Consider these stats from Prison Policy Initiative:
- The unemployment rate for the general public aged 25-44 is 2%
- The unemployment rate for formerly incarcerated individuals aged 25-44 is 3%
EAC Network’s Enhanced Employment Initiative (EEI)
68% of state prison inmates do not receive a high school diploma. A lack of education, life skills, and experience exacerbates the ability to find employment upon release. Through vocational training, career counseling, direct job placement, resume assistance, referrals to schooling options, and help with proper interview attire, our Enhanced Employment Initiative (EEI) program addresses the above areas of need. It is designed to empower New Yorkers as they become productive and self-sufficient members of society.
As a part of our Enhanced Employment efforts, EAC Network will provide tools to help individuals prepare for their job search, ace their interview(s), and sustain steady employment.
Measuring the Success of the Enhanced Employment Initiative
EEI serves around 450-500 people annually, providing clients and their families with financial security and independence. Recent highlights include:
- 272 new enrollments
- 135 successfully graduated and met employment goals
- 100 newly employed
- 116 completed Moral Reconation Therapy job readiness
- 160 completed the 10-module curriculum of Ready Set Work
Recidivism Less Likely for Those in an Employment Assistance Program
Within three years of being released from prison, individuals with jobs have a 16% recidivism rate, whereas those who are unemployed have a 52% rate of recidivism. The pattern is clear; without finding employment and having the ability to earn honest pay, people are forced to find other ways to make ends meet. These options aren’t always the best and can lead them back to prison.
Empowering Redemption: Breaking the Cycle of Unemployment for Former Prisoners
Breaking the cycle of unemployment for those released from prison requires a multifaceted approach. By implementing comprehensive programs such as EAC Network’s Enhanced Employment Initiative (EEI), we can help empower individuals to rebuild their lives. It is a collective responsibility to recognize the potential for change in every individual and assist where we can to help ensure their journey post-incarceration is one of redemption, growth, and successful reintegration into society.