Samuel Corum/Getty Images
The Biden administration on Tuesday unveiled a plan that will allocate $145 million to develop “reintegration plans” for those incarcerated that would connect them to resources, such as jobs, housing and loans upon release. .
The plan is Biden’s latest move to tackle the criminal justice reform the president has incorporated into his 2020 presidential campaign.
Rehabilitation plans should begin as soon as a person is incarcerated and no later than 18 months before the end of a person’s sentence, Biden’s office said.
Biden said in a statement that “…helping those who have served their time to return to their families and become contributing members of their communities is one of the most effective ways to reduce recidivism and reduce crime.” “.
The plan will be funded primarily through grants, according to the proposal.
While incarcerated, correctional facilities should coordinate job fairs and provide literacy, digital literacy and numeracy skills training, according to the plan.
Upon release, formerly incarcerated individuals should be linked to services, such as help with resume writing and job interviews.
“Formerly incarcerated people are an underutilized talent pool despite employers attesting that formerly incarcerated people are often among their best and most dedicated employees,” the statement read.
The proposal advises employers to reassess their interview, hiring, onboarding and retention processes to better include formerly incarcerated people.
Some approaches include “training…staff to understand the unique strengths and needs of formerly incarcerated people” and “providing pathways to long-term employment by establishing paid internships, temporary/seasonal employment , scholarships and apprenticeships…”, according to the proposal. .
The plan suggests that trade unions and professional organizations also work to remove any barriers to entry.
Correctional facilities should also work with state, local, and federal agencies to meet needs such as housing, therapy, and transportation, and ensure newly released individuals are connected to state and federal benefit programs, such as Medicare and veterans benefits, Biden’s office said.
Government agencies have begun issuing guidelines to accommodate the proposals
Several federal agencies have announced their intention to participate in the initiative.
The Department of Education will add 73 post-secondary institutions to its list of participants in the federal Second Chance Pell Initiative, which provides tuition scholarships to those who were previously incarcerated.
The Small Business Association is expected to announce this week that it is removing restrictions it places on borrowers with prior convictions, opening up access to its loans, such as its microloans, 504 loans and the Community Advantage loan for low-income borrowers. income, Biden’s office said.
In February 2021, the SBA relaxed its rules on contractors with criminal records for its Paycheck Protection Program loan.
The Office of Personnel Management is increasing the number of positions in the federal government that are covered by its no-box policy, which prohibits employers from asking criminal history questions in job applications.
Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services is considering creating a special six-month enrollment period after a person’s release from prison to enroll in Medicare.
At the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the agency is taking six months to analyze its current regulations to see where it can best include people with previous convictions.
Biden has made criminal justice reform a key part of his 2020 presidential campaign, including addressing issues such as over-incarceration and racial and socioeconomic disparities.
Reform supporters acknowledge that Biden has taken positive steps, such as rescinding a memo from Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, to push prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges possible for a crime.
But reform activists also say the federal prison population grew by thousands during Biden’s tenure.