SOURCE: Goodwill Industries International

October 16, 2007 14:14 ET

Prisons Must Employ Strategies to Reduce Recidivism

Goodwill Industries Testimony to Congress: Jobs Not Jail

ROCKVILLE, MD--(Marketwire - October 16, 2007) - Goodwill Industries is calling on the U.S. Congress to help stop the downward spiral of criminal recidivism through programs proven to help people exiting the criminal justice system reintegrate into society. In a hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Postal Service, and the District of Columbia, Philip C. Holmes, Vice President of Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake (Baltimore, MD), testified that effective strategies often begin inside the prisons.

“Our work with offenders returning to the community includes sending Goodwill staff inside prisons to work with men and women in the last stages of their incarceration,” says Holmes. “Our goal is to help these job-seekers gain employment within five days.” Holmes says case managers get to know each program participant individually and, before the person is released, work on making the needed connections to community resources such as medical care, housing and drug treatment. Holmes also urges state and federal prison administrators to evaluate the effectiveness of their programs and to employ practices like those used by Goodwill, which are known to reduce recidivism.

“We know first hand that it takes much more than a strong work ethic to be relevant in today's workplace,” says George W. Kessinger, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “It takes long-term, ongoing employment solutions and a criminal justice system that, through work, helps people find a path to self-sufficiency and financial independence."

Recent statistics show that of the 650,000 people released from jails and prisons each year, seven out of 10 will commit new crimes within three years. To address the problem of criminal recidivism, in 2006 alone, 97 local Goodwill agencies across the United States served more than 54,000 current and former offenders through a variety of programs, including job readiness, mentoring, housing, job placement and retention services.

Goodwill supports passage of the Second Chance Act, which would help reduce recidivism by allocating the necessary funds to support such services as job training, the development of healthy child-parent relationships, substance abuse treatment, and services for both physical and mental illness.

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Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Christine Nyirjesy Bragale, ABC
    Director, Media Relations
    Goodwill Industries international
    Ph. (240) 333-5264