The San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP) has received a $499,941 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration that will be used to launch a career center at the Sheriff’s Department’s East Mesa Reentry Facility and a second, satellite career center at the South County Probation Office in Chula Vista. The project, called “Reentry Works San Diego,” will serve an estimated 600 inmates and offenders.
Reentry Works San Diego is the result of a partnership between SDWP and the San Diego County Sheriff’s and Probation departments. The goal of the program is to boost the numbers of job placements among inmates and offenders reentering the community by better integrating public career services with the criminal justice system. Overall goals also include reducing recidivism and promoting public safety.
A California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation report (2011) found a 71.5 percent recidivism rate for paroled study participants in San Diego compared to the statewide rate of 65.1 percent.
“A growing body of evidence has shown the critical link between career opportunities and successful reentry,” says Peter Callstrom, SDWP’s Chief Executive Officer. “We need to increase employment opportunities for justice-involved individuals. We are optimistic that having a career center onsite at the jail and being part of the Probation’s case management team will move San Diego’s recidivism rate in the right direction. If successful, we hope to expand and replicate the program in other facilities.”
“Reentry Works San Diego is team-based case management wherein stakeholders work together to develop individualized plans,” says Bill Gore, Sheriff for San Diego County. “These strategies will involve vocational training, as well as employment preparation. We hope this strong hand-off of employment services pre- and post-release will help reduce recidivism and support the reentry process. I look forward to this partnership and the successes that are sure to follow.“
“We know that one of the keys to not only recidivism reduction, but also to restoring lives, is meaningful, sustained employment,” says Mack Jenkins, Chief Probation Officer for San Diego County. “In Probation, we see it as a case management issue. We are very pleased to participate in this partnership and thrilled to have the additional resources provided by this grant to help improve outcomes with our re-entry population.”
The grant award is part of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Linking to Employment Activities Pre-Release (LEAP) initiative, which will provide $10 million in grants to demonstration projects in 20 communities within 14 states that provide comprehensive services to inmates pre- and post-release. The goal of the LEAP initiative is to integrate two services already offered by local governments: correctional facilities and workforce development programs.
“We have to work together and use existing resources in new, innovative ways to break the cycle of incarceration,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “The LEAP initiative encourages greater coordination between local workforce programs, correctional systems and other critical services to prepare inmates for jobs before release, and to continue to assist them as they return home.”
San Diego Workforce Partnership
The San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP) is the leader for innovative workforce solutions in San Diego County. It funds job training programs that enable adults and youth to develop the skills and knowledge needed for careers that are in demand. SDWP also provides current and projected labor market research on the region’s workforce trends and key industries. Its vision is to ensure that every business in our region has access to a skilled workforce and every job seeker has access to meaningful employment. For more information, visit workforce.org.
Heather Milne Barger (SDWP)