Justice Reinvestment Coalition Wins 1,400 Jobs for Formerly Incarcerated People in Alameda County

June 28, 2016

CONTACT: Zaineb Mohammed, zaineb@ellabakercenter.org, 630-921-1741

Justice Reinvestment Coalition Wins 1,400 Jobs for Formerly Incarcerated People in Alameda County

Oakland, CA-- On Tuesday, June 28th, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously (5-0) in favor of a new Re-Entry Hiring Program, to provide 1,400 county jobs for people impacted by the criminal justice system and youth in the school-to-prison pipeline in Alameda County.

The vote comes after months of community mobilization led by the Justice Reinvestment Coalition of Alameda County demanding more county jobs for people who have been impacted by the criminal justice system.

“Four years ago, I left prison after being inside for 17 years. Then, I didn't feel significant at all. After this win, I am feeling significant,” said Darris Young, a Local Organizer with the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. “Most of the people who I got out of prison with couldn’t get a job, and have ended up back inside. This jobs program is an investment in the future of our community, and in the people who have been shut out of opportunities for far too long.”

The Re-Entry Hiring Program will be implemented in January 2017 and will include job coaching and mentorship, court advocacy to assist program participants in reducing their probation terms, and training for County managers who will supervise participants in the program.

“Through this program, both workers and managers will receive the training they need. Court advocates will work to ensure our county is not wasting resources on excessive probation terms and jail beds for people who really just need the opportunity to support themselves and their families with a good job,” said Keith Brown, a member of the Bay Area Black Workers Center. “Training programs can’t succeed if employers won’t hire people. This program will put people on a path to success.”

In 2014/2015, only 259 of the 13,718 clients served on probation were enrolled into employment services with county employment partners. Of those 259, only 7 clients obtained employment for at least 180 days. Advocates believe this program will not only vastly improve long term employment outcomes for Alameda county residents with arrests and convictions but also serve as a model for other counties throughout California.

“This victory is a first step. Now, we will demand a people’s budget that funds all of the resources we need to thrive in our communities: affordable housing, education, and healthcare,” said Sholonda Jasper, a leader with Oakland Community Organizations. “We are the people and the power is with the people.”

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The Justice Reinvestment Coalition of Alameda County is composed of 15 organizations who are working to reinvest county resources away from prison and jails, and towards community-based programs and support services.