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Saturday, April 25, 2015

US Justice and Labor Dept. reps defensive at regional meeting

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DOJ officials seemed proud of their accomplishments, however,
most US prisoners wind up re-incarcerated after three years.
Maybe it was because the top dogs had to stay at the Justice Department in D.C., we were told, to say goodbye to Attorney General Eric Holder on his last day in office.  Or maybe it was the dress and demeanor of all those government officials who seemed defensive over being held accountable for the poor state of affairs in prisons and jails. Maybe it was the way formerly incarcerated persons relayed stories of not being able to find jobs, even when they had been pardoned.

But as a taxpayer, I felt a little cheated and disillusioned the last day of the Southern Regional Meeting to End Mass Incarceration held in Atlanta on April 24.

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Solomon explained Justice Dept. achievements while Chuck Taylor listened.
"We want to work with resources closer to the ground," said Amy Solomon, Dir. of Policy, Office of Justice Programs, US Dept. of Justice. "Our commitment to justice spans across the Obama Administration," she said.

One attendee,  however, said his life after incarceration has been a living hell, even with well-funded Justice Dept. programs in place to help and a gubernatorial pardon.

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Many formerly incarcerated husbands have to depend on
their wives' incomes to feed their families and pay the bills.
"What good is my pardon or my life if I can't provide for my family? I did my time 18 years ago and am now working on my third higher education degree, but I can't find a job, even making $30k a year, and end up hustling to help feed my five kids."

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Although filing a discrimination complaint is an option, plaintiffs seldom win.
An EEOC representative told him that if he feels companies are discriminating against him because of his "record", he should aggressively pursue litigation.  Members in the audience said filing complaints often lead nowhere.

Here are some programs that the government has undertaken to help.
Second Chance Fellowships - one available, but applications no longer being accepted
Fair Chance Hiring Summit - planned for later this year, organized by Tony Myers
Reentry MythBusters website -
Collateral Consequences -
Pell grants for formerly incarcerated
Law Enforcement Without Prohibition (LEAP) -
New Beginnings job training with Urban League -

Other measures grassroots organizations want to become priorities:
Pass "Ban the Box" at federal level.
Curb corruption between judges and bail bondsmen.
Ensure that money for programs to help formerly incarcerated persons are accounted for.
Target programs against trafficking and prostitution of young women.
Help women in jails which are under consent decrees, like in New Orleans.
Make sure Title VII is followed.
Institute pre-arrest diversion programs.


  1. LD says: This info frustrates me to no avail. I'm writing a log of points of action now to the White House before our President is out of office. I will not stop until the laws are changed. The government does not care about the reality of black men being released back into our society. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks, Tomi, for your interesting insight. For me, as a newbie, I was at least impressed with the varied outreach programs these federal agencies have had in place for some time. They are not generally known to the public.


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