How America Can Do More to Help Black Men Returning Home from Prison Find Jobs: Reflections on RecycleForce’s Trip to Capitol Hill
By Caitlin C. Schnur, Workforce Research and Policy Fellow
“In the summer of 2012, I had just been released from federal prison. I was staying in a halfway house and job hunting, but I really couldn’t come up with any work…It’s so hard to come home from prison and it shouldn’t be…A couple of men at the halfway house stumbled across RecycleForce and told me about it…RecycleForce took a chance with me and I pretty much try to take advantage of every opportunity they’ve given me.” — Robert Perry, RecycleForce
As March came to a close, RecycleForce staff, including former program participant Robert Perry, met up with the National Transitional Jobs Network (NTJN) team in Washington, D.C. We were there to support the B.MORE Initiative’s efforts to champion policies that open doors to employment and economic advancement for low-income black men. Located in Indianapolis, Indiana, RecycleForce provides people returning home from incarceration with transitional jobs (TJ) in its revenue-generating recycling business and provides comprehensive supportive services so that returning citizens can overcome barriers to employment and successfully reenter their communities.
Robert Perry, a former RecycleForce program participant and now the organization’s Shipping and Receiving Coordinator, was integral in showing Indiana’s Congressional delegates why it’s important that they put their support behind employment programs and policies like banning the box that help low-income black men succeed in work.
In meetings with legislators in D.C., Robert was courageous enough to share the struggles he faced finding a job when he returned home from incarceration and how RecycleForce helped him become employed and advance in the workplace. In this interview, Robert opens up again to share RecycleForce’s impact on his life, reflect on his time in D.C., and make the case for why “banning the box” can help ensure that everyone who wants to work can find a job.
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.