Obama to unveil plan to help prisoners reenter society

Obama to unveil plan to help prisoners reenter society
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President Obama on Monday will announce new steps aimed at helping former prisoners reenter society as part of his push to overhaul the criminal justice system. 
 
During a trip to Newark, N.J., Obama will lay out initiatives to help ex-inmates get jobs, housing and education and new grant money to help communities establish reentry programs.
 
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The president plans to visit Integrity House, a substance abuse treatment center, where he will meet with convicted drug offenders trying to get their lives back on track. He is also hosting a roundtable discussion on criminal justice reform at Rutgers University-Newark. 
 
"President Obama will continue to promote these goals by highlighting the reentry process of formerly-incarcerated individuals and announce new actions aimed at helping Americans who’ve paid their debt to society rehabilitate and reintegrate back into their communities," the White House said in a statement. 
 
Obama's new directives include $8 million in federal education grants to aid reentry programs in nine communities around the country and clarifying rules for former prisoners' access to public housing.  
 
They also include new rule changes to ask federal job applicants about their criminal history later in the hiring process — a practice known as "banning the box." Most federal agencies have already taken the step. 
 
Obama will announce five cities around the country, including Newark, are committing to expand programs to help train and place former inmates in tech jobs. 
 
The president's trip to New Jersey is part of a nationwide tour to promote his criminal justice reform efforts, which include a bill in Congress to loosen mandatory minimum sentences for certain nonviolent drug offenders. 
 
In July, Obama became the first sitting president to visit a federal prison when he traveled to the El Reno Correctional Institution in Oklahoma. He spoke to a group of inmates about the importance of rehabilitation and job training to make sure they could succeed after spending time behind bars.