Did you know that today in the United States about half as many people are released from prison as graduate from college each year? While it?s undoubtedly an unintended consequence of this country?s tough-on-crime years in the 1908s and 1990s, over 700,000 prisoners are released each year now, and budget-cutting pressures that are faced by states and counties everywhere will likely increase those numbers in the next few years as prison populations are reduced further to save money. The average age of an American parolee is 34 ? most do not have a high school diploma and few have marketable skills for today?s difficult job market. That is why planning for re-entry is the first order of business in the corrections field today.
In Erie County, our progressive leaders in probation and parole have risen to the top of their field with an innovative approach to helping ex-offenders seek and obtain employment. With almost no new money to help them, federal, state and county personnel have pulled together an impressive group of seventeen organizations including the Erie County Vocational and Technical Center, the Adult Learning Center, Gateway Rehabilitation Center, Gaudenzia Erie, and law enforcement, corrections, and employment training personnel across the county to assess the strengths and needs of every ex-offender who wants help finding employment, develop a personal plan for each job seeker, and help them achieve their plan by supporting them in a ?Job Club? environment where job seekers and their helpers come together weekly to share leads, resolve problems, and find solutions.
This is the most extensive collaboration of service providers working together in Erie County today on one of society?s biggest but least-noticed problems. For more information about the Erie County Job Clubs, please contact the Erie District Office Community Assessment Unit at (814) 871-4201 x 205.