City Receives $825K Grant For ‘NOLA For Life’ Re-Entry Program

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Bureau of Justice has awarded the City of New Orleans $824,665 to strengthen community-based re-entry efforts in Orleans Parish in order to reduce recidivism and the incarceration rate.

         The City will utilize the funds to expand and augment its NOLA For Life re-entry initiative – an intensive and coordinated strategy aimed at reducing recidivism and revitalizing communities by providing opportunities for underserved residents to better find stable economic opportunities and relevant wraparound services. NOLA For Life is Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s comprehensive murder reduction strategy to tackle the city’s historically high murder rate.

         “Our approach to fighting crime in New Orleans is two-fold: we’re boosting resources and manpower for law enforcement to find and arrest those who commit crimes and we’re investing heavily in preventive measures through NOLA FOR LIFE, education and workforce training, and more recreational opportunities,” said Mayor Landrieu. “This federal grant will help New Orleans reduce the likelihood of criminals re-offending thereby continuing the progress we’re making decreasing the city’s jail population. By helping people who have paid their dues to society get a second chance and turn away from crime, we can disrupt the cycle of violence, reduce the burden on taxpayers and strengthen both communities and families – creating a more prosperous New Orleans for everyone.”

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         The goal of the NOLA FOR LIFE re-entry initiative is to provide a pipeline to stable economic opportunities through post-release job training, life skills and social services, and using the City’s Office of Workforce Development and its community partners as a provider of case management, monitoring, and reintegration. The grant will allow for increased coordination with partners and the continued implementation of evidence-based best practices to better reach those in need.

         The target population for this program will be at least 150 incarcerated adults and juveniles aged 16 to 35 years old who have committed a felony and have limited educational attainment (high school diploma or less). All program participants will be Orleans Parish residents and identified as medium- or high-risk offenders.

         The funding is a result of the Second Chance Act of 2007, which provides a comprehensive response to the increasing number of incarcerated adults and juveniles who are released from prison, jail, and juvenile residential facilities and returning to communities. The Act helps ensure the transition individuals make from prison, jail or juvenile residential facilities to the community is successful and promotes public safety. Second Chance Act programs are designed to help communities develop and implement comprehensive and collaborative strategies that address the challenges posed by offender re-entry and recidivism reduction. According to the program, re-entry is an evidence-based process that starts when an offender is initially incarcerated and ends when the offender has been successfully reintegrated in his or her community as a law-abiding citizen. The re-entry process includes the delivery of a variety of evidence-based program services for every program participant in both a pre- and post-release setting.

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         U.S. Congressman Cedric Richmond said, “We need to take a smarter more thoughtful approach to criminal justice. A good job, a proper place to live, and a sense of purpose is proven to be the best route to limiting recidivism and reintegrating individuals who have committed offenses back into the community. This funding will be crucial to expanding programs in New Orleans that support that process and will help us to be a safer more just city.”

         District A Councilmember Susan Guidry said, “Grants like this are an investment that builds stronger communities. With investments in job training, life skills, and social services, we can empower people to become productive members of society, and begin the process of healing our communities. For too long in this country we have only been focused on the punitive side of justice. But the fact of the matter is almost everyone who is incarcerated comes home. And when we turn a blind eye to the barriers they face when they come home, we are setting them up for failure and recidivism. We must never forget that justice is not just about punitive punishment, it is also about rehabilitation.

         Judy Reese Morse, deputy mayor for citywide initiatives, said, “This funding will do much more than help us reduce recidivism and reduce our jail population. This funding will help us build a stronger, more inclusive city where every resident has an opportunity – or second chance – to succeed. From prevention and intervention to enforcement and rehabilitation, we are fighting back in the most comprehensive way possible to end this city’s culture of violence. These initiatives don’t operate in a vacuum; all of these are long-term reforms and initiatives that work in tandem to make New Orleans a safer, more prosperous place to call home for every resident.”

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         Charles West, director of the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team, which oversees the NOLA FOR LIFE strategy, said, “History has taught us that the old strategy of simply locking everyone up doesn’t make us safer; we must be both tougher and smarter on crime. This funding will provide a critical boost to the City’s efforts to change the trajectory of men and women working through or returning from the criminal justice system. Comprehensive, community-based re-entry programs like NOLA FOR LIFE can only be successful when everyone is at the table working in tandem to stop the revolving door at our jails and prisons. This was an intense application process, and I want to thank the Mayor, City employees and our many community partners who worked around the clock to make this happen.”

         Kim Rugon, vice president of mission services/workforce development for Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Louisiana, said, “Working with the ex-offender population in New Orleans is a unique experience. It provides us an opportunity to address life issues that prevent many of these returning citizens from leading a productive and self-sufficient life style upon re-entering society. Funds from this grant will allow partnering agencies to provide a holistic approach through extensive case management, behavioral health, substance abuse treatment, counseling, parenting and a host of other social services that will allow for success. Grants such as this are sorely needed in the New Orleans Metropolitan area and will prove to be beneficial to the quality of life for the citizens of this great city.”

         Ashleigh Gardere, senior adviser for economic opportunity, said, “When people have good-paying jobs, supportive families and strong communities, they are far less likely to commit a violent crime. Part of the Mayor’s Economic Opportunity Strategy has always been to ensure nobody is left behind and that the City is ready, willing and able to help those who wish to turn away from crime. One of the main pillars of NOLA FOR LIFE is to promote jobs and opportunity, and the City is more determined than ever to ensure every resident can take part in the city’s growing prosperity.”




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