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Prison to Employment

Operation New Hope is one of seven community based organizations contracted by San Bernardino County and Riverside County Workforce Development Boards to deliver the Prison to Employment services.

The Corrections Workforce Partnership Agreement is intended to strengthen linkages between the state workforce and corrections systems in order to improve the process by which the formerly incarcerated and justice-involved* individuals reenter society and the labor force. The Prison to Employment Initiative was a grant program that included in the Governor’s 2018 Budget proposal and includes $37 million over three budget years to operationalize integration of workforce and reentry services in the state’s 14 labor regions. The goal is to improve labor market outcomes by creating a systemic and ongoing partnership between rehabilitative programs within California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the state workforce system by bringing CDCR under the policy umbrella of the State Workforce Plan.

* “Justice-involved” refers to individuals who are on parole, probation, mandatory supervision, or post-release community supervision and are supervised by, or are under the jurisdiction of, a county or the CDCR.

California releases approximately 36,000 people from the state prison each year, a portion of whom have received in-prison job-training rehabilitative services such as Career Technical Education (CTE) or have participated in programs operated by the California Prison Industry Authority (CalPIA). Concurrently, California manages federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funds through its State Workforce Plan developed by the California Workforce Development Board (State Board), and implemented by Local Workforce Development Boards (Local Boards) across the state.

While there is some, often informal, coordination between these two systems there is no formal, sustained, and systemic, relationship between them. Some reentry and workforce programs have been created to target certain subpopulations of the state’s supervised population, as discussed below, and while these programs have provided good data and lessons learned, an ongoing marriage of the two systems is needed to better integrate services operating in isolation, and to fill gaps and provide holistic and long-term outcomes to reduce recidivism.

As part of Governor Brown’s efforts to improve California’s criminal and juvenile justice systems and reduce recidivism through increased rehabilitation, the State Board, CDCR, CalPIA, and California Workforce Association (CWA) have finalized a partnership agreement which is included in amendments to the California WIOA Unified Strategic Workforce Development Plan 2016-2020.

The partnership agreement will better link education, job training, and work experience in prison to post-release jobs by fostering a system of coordinated service delivery to a population that faces a variety of barriers. It serves as a blueprint for building local and regional partnerships to improve labor market outcomes and reduce recidivism. Policy strategies outlined in this agreement include:

  1. Sector Strategies
  2. Career Pathways
  3. Organizing Regionally
  4. Earn and Learn
  5. Supportive Services
  6. Integrated Service Delivery and Braided Resources
  7. Building Cross-System Data Capacity

The partnership agreement will inform policies specific to California’s 14 Labor Regions, 45 Local Workforce Development Boards, and 200 contracted America’s Job Centers of California (AJCCs), and how they serve the state’s formerly incarcerated and justice-involved population.               

The partnership agreement and Prison to Employment Initiative build off of existing grants and initiatives administered by the State Board that targets the formerly incarcerated and justice-involved population. These programs include Workforce Accelerator Fund, ForwardFocus: AB 2060 Supervised Population Workforce Training, and Proposition 39 Pre-Apprenticeship. This new approach takes the best of the existing initiatives; and integrates these into systemic and ongoing change through the development of regional plans to coordinate service delivery based on local labor conditions, resources, and partners.

*content from CA Workforce Development Board https://cwdb.ca.gov/partnerships/workforce-corrections-partnership/