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States Help Ex-Prisoners Find Jobs

Publication Date: 
January 24, 2011
The New York Times
Steven Greenhouse

Professor Joan Petersilia is quoted by Steven Greenhouse in this New York Times article regarding the gradual disappearance of inmate reentry programs:

Faced with yawning budget gaps and high unemployment, California, Michigan, New York and several other states are attacking both problems with a surprising strategy: helping ex-convicts find jobs to keep them from ending up back in prison.

The approach is backed by prisoner advocates as well as liberal and conservative government officials, who say it pays off in cold, hard numbers. Michigan, for example, spends $35,000 a year to keep someone in prison — more than the cost of educating a University of Michigan student. Through vigorous job placement programs and prudent use of parole, state officials say they have cut the prison population by 7,500, or about 15 percent, over the last four years, yielding more than $200 million in annual savings. Michigan spends $56 million a year on various re-entry programs, including substance abuse treatment and job training.


“The reality is many of these programs are disappearing,” said Joan Petersilia, a Stanford law professor and an adviser to Mr. Brown on criminal justice matters.