By Caitlin C. Schnur, Coordinator, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity
With the recently-launched Coalition for Public Safety and increasing congressional chatter about prison reform, making the nation’s criminal justice system smarter, fairer, and more cost effective is a rising priority—and it should be. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Our country has only five percent of the world’s population but one quarter of its prisoners, and a disproportionate percentage of those prisoners are men of color. Many of these prisoners will return to their communities. In 2010, about 10 percent of nonincarcerated men—and 25 percent of nonincarcerated black men—had a felony conviction. At the same time, our prison system has a revolving door: more than half of returning citizens will be imprisoned again within five years.
Mass incarceration inflicts a high cost on taxpayers, communities, and families alike. We need strategies that will help prevent criminal justice system involvement and reduce reincarceration—and the research continues to demonstrate that access to employment and education can do just that. Here’s why and how efforts to reform the criminal justice system should leverage employment strategies to counter mass incarceration and reduce recidivism.
By Caitlin Schnur, Workforce Research and Policy Fellow, NTJN
with Jonathan Philipp, Research and Policy Assistant, NTJN
In recognition of Black History Month, this February the National Transitional Jobs Network (NTJN) will produce a series of blogs related to Black Male Achievement. To kick off our blog series, we talked with Carl Chadband, Chief Operating Officer of KISRA (the Kanawha Institute for Social Research & Action, Inc.) and a member of our B.MORE Initiative’s Community of Practice.
Located in Dunbar, West Virginia, KISRA operates education, employment, economic empowerment, and behavioral health programming for low- and moderate-income individuals and families in several West Virginia counties. While Carl oversees almost all of KISRA’s operations in his role as Chief Operating Officer, he is especially committed to opening doors to employment and economic advancement for low-income black men, including black men returning from incarceration.
In this conversation, Carl discusses the power of entrepreneurship for black men; shares the importance of guaranteeing the full rights of citizenship to people returning home from incarceration; and explains why even human rights champion Mahatma Gandhi might face chronic unemployment today.