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Four Programs to Help Ex-offenders Succeed

Unlike baseball, second and third chances aren’t always promised in life. Before he was shot dead by a transit police officer a few hours after New Years Eve, Oscar Grant III had made a resolution to continue his life by putting his family and career first.  He was struggling with this because he had spent some time in prison as a youth.

Whether its New Year’s Eve, or three months later, life-amending promises like the one that Grant made aren’t easy to keep without help.

Here are four groups and initiatives that are working to make sure that individuals who want to makeover their lives can actually get the tools, training, and the chance to do it.

1.  Ban The Box Legislation

Throughout the country some 40 cities and counties have enacted legislation that removes the criminal history check-off box on private sector job applications until later in the hiring process. These laws prevent employers from tossing the applications of those with a criminal past, which give ex-convicts a chance to be considered for a job based on their merit. Visit  www.nelp.org for a map of the cities, counties, and states that adopt such laws; and for information on how to bring the law to your city.

2. National Urban League’s Reintegration of Ex-Offender Adult Program

Launched in 2011, The National Urban League RExO program operates in Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, and Oklahoma City. If you are an ex-offender, who left a correctional facility within the last 12 months and you are returning to a high-poverty, high-crime community, than local Urban League chapters of the RExO program will provide you with job preparedness training, mentoring, and job placement, among other things. Visit: iamempowered.com for more info.

3. Ready4Work

This national program operates on a four-pronged approach that involves case management, life coaching, job training, and job placement by relying on partnerships with faith-based organizations, local businesses, community institutions, and the judicial system. Upon acceptance, participants are required to attend a comprehensive 4-6 week career development training course, featuring employment and life-skills. For more information visit OperationNewHope.com

4. Re-entry Anonymous

Finding a job isn’t the only challenge that ex-offenders face. Drug abuse in prison is a huge reality. Three out of four state prisoners released annually abuse alcohol and/or drugs, according to The International Institute for Alcohol Awareness. Left untreated, these addictions are major barriers on the path to successful reentry. Reentry Anonymous is a 12-step program for men and women recovering from incarceration and addictions. Members have a choice to share their experience, strength, and hope with each other through face-to-face meetings or online meetings. For more information visit: 12step.org/