Hundreds of Californians who have been released from jail could get direct cash payments of $2,400, as well as counseling, help with job searches, and other support. This is the first program of its kind in the country, and its goal is to make it easier for people to leave prison and reduce recidivism.
The Center for Employment Opportunities, which runs the program, revealed this week that people who get the money will get it in several installments after reaching certain goals, such as making progress in finding places to live and work.
Samuel Schaeffer, CEO of a national nonprofit that helps people get jobs and become financially stable after leaving prison, said the goal is to give people a chance “to cover their most essential needs” like food and bus fare in the important first few days after they get out.
Schaeffer said Thursday, “The first three to six months are the most dangerous. That’s when a lot of people end up back in jail.” “We want to use this opportunity to immediately connect people with services and financial help so they don’t break the law again.” The governor’s Workforce Development Board is giving a $6.9 million grant to community-based groups to help them do their jobs better and to provide more “re-entry services” for people who have been in prison.
Some $2 million of that will go straight to former prisoners as cash payments of about $2,400 each. The center said the money would be given in installments after hitting certain goals, such as: meeting with a jobs coach to prepare for an interview; making progress toward earning an industry credential or certificate; and making a budget and opening a bank account. Schaeffer called the new program a “game changer” and the first of its kind in the country. He hopes that other states will follow suit.