above: photo courtesy of The Justice Reinvestment Coalition
Justice Reinvestment Coalition Celebrates Winning 1,400 Jobs 4 Freedom in Alameda County
by Delency Parham
The Justice Reinvestment Coalition of Alameda announced the launch of their Jobs 4 Freedom campaign in May 2016, and all that are involved are extremely excited about the recent win. The Justice Reinvestment Coalition is composed of 15 organizations that strive to redirect county resources from prisons and jails, to community programs and support services. Through the assistance of Alameda County, The Justice Reinvestment Coalition plans to help 1,400 formerly incarcerated residents find county jobs.
The Jobs 4 Freedom campaign launched a few months ago and by the end of June they had a win. The Justice Reinvestment Coalition were up against the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, and with the help of the community, they were able to secure the win. An estimated 200 people showed up to the Town Hall meeting held June 9th, and on that same day, 4 of the 5 board members gave their public commitment to support the campaign. Danielle Mahones, who serves as Program and Capacity Consultant for the Bay Area Black Workers Center and an organizer for the Justice Reinvestment Coalition, hopes that the campaign can put all its participants on the path to success.
“We are all really excited about this program,” said Mahones. “It can be a struggle to go through this alone, we plan on taking some pressure off of people and acting as a resource.”
Alameda County has a history of helping people from re-entry programs, like Jobs 4 Freedom, find long-term employment, and providing them access to opportunities they would normally be excluded from. It is no secret that people with arrests and convictions on their record are victims of discrimination when it comes to the hiring process, forcing them to lose out on quality employment opportunities. With there being very few places that will hire persons with records, many are forced to turn back to the very habits that lead to their incarceration in the first place.
The National Institute of Justice reports that within three years of release, almost two-thirds of prisoners are rearrested. Many fall into this statistic because of the simple fact of employers intentionally avoiding applicants with a criminal record. A 2003 study examined the chances of interviewees with a criminal record getting a call back after an interview, and the numbers supported the notion of people with a record having a very slim chance of even getting a call back, let alone a job. According to the study, only 5% of Black people with a record received a call back after an interview, compared to 17% of whites with a record who received a call back. These statistics put a number to the countless stories of people who’ve been rejected because of mistakes they made in the past.
According to the press release from the Ella Baker Center, the reentry program will be implemented in January 2017 and the program will include job coaching, mentorship, and court advocacy to accompany program participants to court dates. The Ella Baker Center is one of the 15 organizations that have been working closely with Jobs 4 Freedom program to help secure this win.
As Jobs 4 Freedom gets ready to do their part in ensuring equity for formerly incarcerated persons, Mahones and the rest of the organization are prepared to go the extra mile for its members. She feels that the progression of people means the progression of all people. Including those that have been by impacted by the criminal justice system.
“There are a number of roadblocks and setbacks designed for these people to fail,” said Mahones. “Jobs 4 Freedom will do our best to make sure they succeed.”
Delency Parham is a staff writer at Afrikan Black Coalition. He covers sports, culture, and anything else pertaining to BLACK people. You can follow him on Twitter @SevenBaldwin