The City of Newark’s Department of Economic and Housing Development’s Prisoner Reentry Initiative was recognized as one of 111 nationwide innovative government initiatives as a “Bright Idea” by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, the city announced in a statement.
The Bright Ideas program recognizes creative solutions to issues facing America’s municipalities and other public agencies. The Office of Reentry, with a commitment to a “rapid attachment to work” model and performance measurement and management, is one of a few city agencies in the country assisting people returning home from prison and preventing recidivism.
“I commend our Prisoner Reentry team for gaining this deserved recognition,” Mayor Cory Booker said. “Since taking office, my administration has been steadfast in our commitment to transforming Newark into a national model for urban transformation. I am pleased that the Ash Center has recognized our work by granting the Office of Reentry with this Bright Idea distinction.”
The reentry program involves several groups, including the Nicholson Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, the federal Department of Labor, the federal Department of Justice, La Casa de Don Pedro, Renaissance Community Development Corporation, Newark Community Solutions, the Greater Newark Conservancy, Offender Aid and Restoration, and others, Booker also said.
“Government innovation does not require endless resources and generous budgets,” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in Government Program at the Ash Center. “As exemplified by this year’s Bright Ideas, some of our country’s smartest innovations can in fact reduce government’s size while serving our citizens more efficiently and effectively.”
Located in City Hall, Room 113, the Office of Reentry also sponsors the Clean and Green transitional jobs program, which places formerly incarcerated individuals in “green” transitional jobs performing horticultural work in public spaces and abandoned lots throughout Newark. Other initiatives for ex-offenders in Newark include a partnership with Offender Aid and Restoration to enable ex-offenders to obtain identification documents, like birth certificates, school records, and drivers’ licenses, and the Newark Comprehensive Center for Fathers, which helps formerly incarcerated fathers learn parenting and family skills. This program has a three percent recidivism rate.
For more information about any Newark municipal program or initiative, contact the Non-Emergency Call Center, at (973) 733-4311.
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