The city of Providence is launching a new program to help ex-offenders stay out of prison. Former inmates face numerous hurdles once they return to life on the outside, including barriers to jobs and housing.
This new program tackles one of those hurdles by offering job training skills to newly released inmates. Rhodes to Employment will be paid for with a $500,000 federal grant, from the U.S. Department of Labor. The 12-week program will offer training in areas like applying for jobs, interviewing, and obtaining health insurance.
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza applauded the new program as a way to reintegrate residents into the city.
“When members of our community make a mistake it shouldn’t turn into a life sentence,” said Elorza. “It’s not only incarceration, but it’s what follows you after incarceration that makes it difficult for folks to reintegrate back into society.”
Elorza said recidivism remains remain high amongst former prisoners returning to the Providence area.
“46 percent of recidivists had returned to the Rhode Island Department of Corrections, within the first six months of release,” said Elorza. “This is not doing right by them, and it’s also not doing right by this also not doing right by society.
The grant will only serve about 120 people, limited to those who live in the Providence-area, and have committed lower level crimes. Officials consider this something of a pilot program with the potential for expansion.
The program launch comes as the city’s affordable housing agency, the Providence Housing Authority, recently loosened housing restrictions for ex-offenders.