Delegation Announces $100,000 to Help Young Ex-Offenders in Providence Find Housing, Work
Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline announced $100,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Juvenile Reentry Assistance Program (JRAP) to help the Providence Housing Authority pave the way for young people with criminal or juvenile records to find jobs, affordable housing, and educational opportunities.
“By ensuring young people who’ve paid their debt to society have an opportunity to find a job, affordable housing, and educational resources, this federal grant will help young ex-offenders get a second chance at rebuilding their lives and becoming productive citizens,” said Senator Reed.
“Young people with a record face tough challenges in finding work and affordable housing, but with help and guidance they can overcome those challenges and be productive members of society,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and former federal prosecutor. “This funding will help the Providence Housing Authority provide young Rhode Islanders with the tools they need to put their past behind them and get on with their lives.”
JRAP grants assist public housing authorities and qualified community organizations in reducing the consequences of juvenile and criminal records by helping to coordinate support services for youth age 24 and under. Services may include education and job-training counselling, creating or modifying child support orders, providing advice on legal rights and obligations during a job search, and help in reinstating revoked or suspended drivers’ licenses. JRAP grants are also used to help expunge, seal, or correct juvenile or adult criminal records that can stand in the way of job opportunities, education, and affordable housing.
“The punishment must fit the crime, so when a young person serves his or her time after being adjudicated, it should not be followed by a life sentence of discrimination and lost opportunities. The most effective way to reduce recidivism is to help rehabilitated offenders put their lives back together through access to education, job training, and affordable housing,” said Congressman Jim Langevin. “Reintegrating youth offenders back into our communities gives them a second chance at being productive, law-abiding, successful citizens, and that is an opportunity that all young people in Rhode Island deserve.”
“I’m delighted to announce our state is receiving more than $100,000 through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Juvenile Reentry Assistance Program. This is an important step towards reforming our broken criminal justice system,” said Congressman Cicilline, a member of the House Judiciary Committee. “In Rhode Island, African-American children are nine times more likely to be placed into juvenile detention. It’s essential that young offenders are given a chance to fully re-enter society after they’ve completed their sentence.”
DOJ statistics suggest a criminal record can be a major impediment to an ex-offender’s ability to obtain an education, find and hold a job, and secure affordable housing. Ex-offender youth can face additional challenges. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “many confined juveniles return to communities with high crime rates and poverty, unstable households and family relationships, failing school systems, and unemployment,” and “juvenile offenders—in general—are more likely to struggle with mental health and substance abuse issues” than their peers.