States Help Ex-Inmates Find Jobs

January 25, 2011  |  

(New York Times) — Faced with yawning budget gaps and high unemployment, California, Michigan, New York and several other states are attacking both problems with a surprising strategy: helping ex-convicts find jobs to keep them from ending up back in prison.  The approach is backed by prisoner advocates as well as liberal and conservative government officials, who say it pays off in cold, hard numbers. Michigan, for example, spends $35,000 a year to keep someone in prison — more than the cost of educating a University of Michigan student. Through vigorous job placement programs and prudent use of parole, state officials say they have cut the prison population by 7,500, or about 15 percent, over the last four years, yielding more than $200 million in annual savings.

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