Division of Criminal Justice Services

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Contact: John Caher, Press Office
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
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Contact: Risa Heller 917-647-9187
Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO)

For immediate release: May 5, 2010

Center for Employment Opportunities opens new Albany facility - provides employment services to county residents returning home from prison

Proven Model Has Been Demonstrated to Increase Public Safety, Saving Tax Dollars By Reducing Recidivism With Funding from State Division of Criminal Justice Services

CEO Albany Gives Formerly Incarcerated Individuals Real Work Experience, Helping Them Find and Keep Full Time Employment

ALBANY – The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) today announced the opening of CEO Albany – a new program that provides employment services to people returning home from prison to Albany County.

CEO Albany, which is supported by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding committed to this effort by Governor David A. Paterson and Acting Division of Criminal Justice Services Commissioner Sean M. Byrne, works exclusively with formerly incarcerated people, helping them gain basic work skills to obtain full-time private sector jobs. It is located in downtown Albany at 41 State Street.

“Many people coming home from prison face a steeplechase of barriers,” said Mindy Tarlow, CEO’s Executive Director. “CEO Albany works to break down one of the steepest barriers: finding and keeping a full-time job. I am thrilled that CEO is working with our government and community partners in Albany to help give these men and women a path to reentering their communities successfully.”

Acting Commissioner Byrne said CEO Albany “represents a major step forward in our efforts to transform individuals’ lives and protect the public.”

“Criminal justice policy makers have long recognized that successful re-entry – providing formerly incarcerated men and women with assistance and services they need to become productive, law-abiding citizens upon their return to their communities – is critical to public safety,” Acting Commissioner Byrne said. “Our partnership with CEO and its visionary leader, Mindy Tarlow, is all about transforming former offenders into productive, tax-paying, law-abiding assets to their community.”

New York State Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Mary B. Kavaney said: “Governor Paterson has committed $12 million in federal stimulus aid to provide transitional jobs and skill training to more than 1,600 individuals involved in the criminal justice system, with the goal of placing as many as possible in permanent employment. We believe this is a sound investment in lives and communities, and we welcome CEO to Albany with open arms.”

Mark Eagan, president & CEO of the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce, added: “We applaud the Center for Employment Opportunities for opening its CEO Albany office. By providing employment services to county residents returning home after incarceration, CEO will not only prepare these individuals for productive careers, but also reduce recidivism as they pursue professional opportunities.”

CEO has been operating as an independent organization in New York City since 1996. The expansion to Albany is one of CEO’s first forays outside New York City. The CEO Albany office is staffed by six full-time employees, all of whom were hired locally.

CEO’s program has been proven to reduce crime. 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. After three years of follow-up, the independent evaluator noted that these recidivism outcomes are “rarely seen in criminal justice studies of this kind.”By reducing participants’ interaction with the criminal justice system at every level, CEO saves tax dollars by providing state and local governments a significant return on their investment.

The CEO model begins with a four-day Life Skills Education course that prepares participants for the workplace and teaches resume writing and interview skills. Upon graduation, participants are given a pair of steel-toed boots and are eligible for paid work on a transitional job site. These fully supervised sites expose participants to a real workplace, while giving them the constructive feedback and guidance they need to succeed in the workplace. Participants earn minimum wage and are given a paycheck at the end of each completed shift.

One day a week, participants come to CEO’s office for Job Coaching and Job Development. Leveraging the experience they gain on the work sites, CEO staff works one-on-one with individuals to facilitate interviews and secure full-time private sector jobs. After placement, CEO works with individuals for a full year to help them retain their employment and give them the support they need to stay connected to the workforce.

CEO Albany launched in early December 2009. Since then, 47 participants have completed the Life Skills Education class and 46 have worked on the transitional job crews. After four months of operation, CEO has been successful in placing eight participants into full time jobs.

Currently, CEO Albany operates two transitional work crews in the Empire State Plaza concourse, where they help maintain outdoor areas of the Capitol Complex. CEO and the State Office of General Services have signed a two-year year agreement, which started in December. Supervised by a CEO employee who maintains a line-of-sight supervision with all participants, up to nine individuals work on projects daily that include sweeping floors, cleaning bathrooms and removing trash.