Federal funds to help Michiganders land jobs after prison

Inmates work on cabinet doors for Habitat for Humanity at the Ionia Correctional Facility in 2016. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

By Kyle Kaminski

November 14, 2023

Federal grant funding awarded through President Joe Biden’s administration will expand a state program that provides employment and training services to ex-prisoners.

MICHIGAN—A statewide program geared toward finding jobs for formerly incarcerated individuals and reducing recidivism after they return home is set to get a big boost this year.

The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) last week announced that it received a competitive, $2 million workforce development grant through the US Department of Labor and Justice. State officials said the funding will allow for the continued expansion of the Michigan Citizen Reentry Initiative, which is designed to help connect Michiganders returning home from prison with meaningful employment and training opportunities after their sentence.

“Returning citizens face challenges getting the skills they need for high-skilled, good-paying jobs,” Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said in a statement. “The Michigan Citizen Reentry Initiative is an innovative and inclusive approach to expand the pool of talent our state needs to keep our economic momentum going strong. It ensures that individuals who have paid their debt to society can help keep Michigan open for business and on the move.”

The program—which first launched last year—provides employment opportunities and training to inmates and recently released prisoners, with the end goal of keeping them out of jail and integrating them into the workforce and their communities.

“We’re focused on making Michigan a place where all people, businesses and communities have the educational and economic means to reach their full potential—including those who were incarcerated and need support to get back in the workforce,” LEO Director Susan Corbin said in a statement. “The Citizen Reentry Initiative expansion will further our efforts to make sure everyone has the education and training resources they need to build a better future.”

A $7.6 million grant enabled the state to launch the program last year at the Milan Federal Correctional Institution and four residential reentry centers for former inmates in Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Detroit, and Grand Rapids. State officials said the goal is to expand it statewide.

Specifically, the federal grant will be used to broaden outreach to the residential reentry centers, people under home confinement, and inmates who are transferring from another federal facility—including with pre-release education, career guidance, and social support, officials said.

“This investment in reentry services is the morally right thing to do. We need to continue to do everything possible to empower those who are returning back to our communities with the tools and resources they need to be successful,” said Darryl Woods, founder of Fighting The Good Fight, a nonprofit that provides support and mentorship to returning citizens and at-risk youth. “This will help reduce recidivism, save us a lot of money and restore families in a meaningful way. I strongly appreciate this hand-up approach in helping those who are coming back home.”

READ MORE: New Michigan program trains prisoners to trim around power lines

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Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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