Contact: John Caher or Janine Kava, Press Office
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
(518) 457-8828
john.caher@dcjs.ny.gov or (518) 225-5240 – cell
janine.kava@dcjs.ny.gov or (518) 275-5508 – cell

For immediate release: Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010

Governor Paterson announces federal ‘re-entry’ grant

More than $700,000 will support transitional employment program in Onondaga County

Governor David A. Paterson and Acting Commissioner Sean M. Byrne of the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) today announced that New York State has been awarded a $704,948 federal Second Chance Act grant to help provide transitional employment and other vocational services in Onondaga County for individuals recently released from prison.

“The goal of my Administration’s re-entry strategy is to ensure that former offenders remain former offenders and become assets to their community,” Governor Paterson said. “Last year, I committed $14 million in federal stimulus grants to support re-entry initiatives in New York City, Albany, Rochester and Buffalo. This federal grant will allow us to support the expansion of a proven re-entry program to the Syracuse area.”

Acting Commissioner Byrne said: “We know that parolees who are employed are far less likely to re-offend and far more likely to become law-abiding, tax-paying, productive members of society. This federal aid will help provide former offenders with the tools they need to successfully transition back to their communities. We are very pleased to have the assets to support an exciting initiative by two leaders in re-entry, the Center for Employment Opportunities and the Center for Community Alternatives.”

Under a grant proposal approved by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) – a New York City-based organization that expanded its transitional employment program to Buffalo, Rochester and Albany with stimulus aid – the Center for Community Alternatives (CCA) in Syracuse and the Onondaga County Re-entry Task Force will join services to create the Onondaga Supportive Jobs Program for returning offenders. The funds will be channeled through DCJS, which is the recipient of the grant.

CEO (www.ceoworks.org) has been operating as an independent organization in New York City since 1996. Findings from an independent, random-assignment evaluation of CEO programs begun in 2005 show that people who enroll in CEO have significantly lower rates of recidivism on a variety of measures, including arrests, convictions and re-incarceration. CEO opened offices in Buffalo, Albany and Rochester this year with the help of federal stimulus aid committed to its program by Governor Paterson.

“This Second Chance Act grant will allow us to assist nearly 150 individuals with the skills and experience they need to return to the labor market and turn their lives around,” said Mindy Tarlow, executive director of CEO.  We couldn’t be happier to bring CEO’s proven employment model to Syracuse in partnership with DCJS, the Onondaga County Re-entry Task Force and the Center for Community Alternatives.”  

The CCA (www.communityalternatives.org) will provide case management, reintegration support, work readiness training, job development, job placement and retention support for people who are released from state prison to Onondaga County. CCA will receive referrals from the state Division of Parole and the Onondaga County Re-entry Task Force and then will pass along “employment-ready” participants to CEO, which will oversee the transitional job aspect of the program. In addition to its offices in Syracuse, CCA has offices in Buffalo, Rochester and New York City.

The program will provide immediate employment opportunities for individuals released from prison by placing them on a transitional job as part of a CEO work crew. After completing a one-week life skills education course, this transitional job will give the individual the experience they need to work with a job developer who will help place the participant into permanent, unsubsidized employment. Throughout this process, the individual will receive case management support from CCA. 

“The opportunity to integrate CCA’s reentry services with the CEO model provides new opportunities for people returning to Syracuse from state prison,” said Marsha Weissman, executive director of the Center for Community Alternatives. “The program will not only contribute to successful reentry, but will enhance public safety, as people who are able to get work once released are much less likely to return to crime.”

DCJS Acting Commissioner Byrne said the new program will work closely with the Onondaga County Re-entry Task Force, one of 16 DCJS-supported local groups that work with police departments, parole, probation, mental health and social service providers to provide coordinated services to offenders who have a high risk of recidivism and have difficult-to-address re-integration needs such as housing and employment.

Onondaga County District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick, who serves as chairman of the local re-entry task force, said: “As District Attorney, I am responsible for public safety and holding criminals responsible for their conduct. I believe that pro-active efforts to reduce recidivism increase public safety in our community. By providing a safe and stable work environment, ex-offenders are much more likely to succeed in their quest to become productive, peaceful citizens. We appreciate the initiative shown by DCJS, CEO and CCA in providing this opportunity and look forward to working together to accomplish this goal.”

The Second Chance Act authorizes federal grants to government agencies and nonprofit organizations to provide employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, housing, family programming, mentoring, victims support, and other services that can help reduce recidivism.

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (www.criminaljustice.ny.gov) is a multi-function criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including collection and analysis of statewide crime data; operation of the DNA databank and criminal fingerprint files; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the state’s Sex Offender Registry and a toll-free telephone number (1-800-262-3257) that allows anyone to research the status of an offender.