State to invest $1.1 million for former inmate job opportunities, services

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — Attorney General Phil Weiser and Gov. Jared Polis announced a $1.1 million partnership between the public and private sector to boost employment opportunities and services for former Colorado inmates.

“As a state, we share a collective interest in ensuring that every person who leaves prison reenters our
communities successfully and does not take actions that may put them back into prison,” Weiser said. “Employment is one of the best predictors for successful reentry into the community and many businesses are struggling now to find new employees. Investing in successful reentry outcomes leads to safer communities, stronger families, fewer victims of crime, and a more dynamic economy that benefits all Coloradans.”

The money comes from court settlements that are directed to be reinvested in the state to benefit public welfare, according to a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office.

It will come in the form of grants from the Department of Law. $900,000 will go to community organizations to build a network of businesses that are dedicated to hiring people leaving prison. Another $200,000 will go to the Department of Corrections to support community organizations that help inmates with job skills, mental health support and housing.

“More than 95% of the men and women who come into the CDOC are released back into the community at some point in time. We know that the best way to ensure public safety is for those individuals to leave prison with a job, a place to live, and community connections,” said CDOC Executive Director Dean Williams. “We have already begun to develop relationships with incredible employers who see the wisdom and impact of fair chance hiring. This effort will help us to advance that work in a big way and continues to drive forward the Departments’ goal of reducing the recidivism rate in Colorado.”

More than 8,500 people leave Colorado prisons every year, and CDOC data indicates half of those offenders return to prison within three years for committing new crimes or for violating parole terms.

Weiser and Polis were joined by Executive Director of the Department of Corrections Dean Williams, Director of the Latino Coalition for Community Leadership Cory Miskell, Hassan Latif with the Second Chance Center, owner of Basic Industries Drew Patterson and Executive Director of Breakthrough Stacey Putka.

You can watch the news conference on FOX31 NOW in the player above.

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