DOL announces $5M in grants for jail-based employment centers

DOL announces $5M in grants for jail-based employment centers
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The Department of Labor (DOL) on Wednesday announced $5 million in grants to help county, municipal or regional jails create in-house employment centers.

A total of 10 grants — each worth $500,000 — will be funded by the agency’s "Linking to Employment Activities Pre-Release" or "LEAP" initiative.

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According to the Department of Justice, there are more than 3,000 county and local jails that release more than 9 million people every year, many of whom have few job skills and face difficult barriers to stable employment.

Without a strong support system or a steady job, DOL said, many once-incarcerated people are likely to commit new crimes and return to jail: a cycle of recidivism that recurs nationally.

“There is no such thing as a spare American,” said Labor Secretary Tom Perez said in a news release. “We need to take people where we find them and help them overcome barriers."

Perez said the grants will strengthen communities by integrating services already available outside of jail and build partnerships between local correctional facilities and the local workforce.