WH Lists Prisoner Re-Entry Programs as Budget Priority--for Black Families Only

By Melanie Arter | October 16, 2012 | 10:44 AM EDT

In this photo taken Dec. 22, 2011 and released by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, a Clark County Detention Center jail cell is seen in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)

(CNSNews.com) - The White House’s fiscal year 2013 budget includes $831 million for Department of Justice prisoner re-entry programs, which are designed to help inmates who have been released from prison find a job and to reduce recidivism rate.

Take a look at the Obama White House’s Office of Management and Budget, and you’ll find the program is mentioned under the fact sheet on key issues titled, “An Economy Built to Last and Security for African American Families.”

However, there is no mention of prisoner re-entry programs under any other header – not under the fact sheet on middle class families, Latino families, Asian-American families, or giving a hand up to low-income families.

The program began in 2004 under the George W. Bush administration as a way to help ex-prisoners by linking them with faith-based and community institutions to help them find work.

According to an archived version of the Bush White House website page, $25 million was originally allocated to the program, which was jointly funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, the Department of Justice, and various private organizations.

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Fast-forward to the Obama administration, and the program has ballooned to $831 million, including $80 million for grant assistance under the Second Chance Act, which Bush signed into law on April 9, 2008.

The Second Chance Act “authorizes federal grants to government agencies and nonprofit organizations to provide employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, housing, family programming, mentoring, victims support, and other services that can help reduce recidivism.”

Also included in the $831 million for prisoner re-entry programs is “$21 million for residential substance abuse treatment programs in State and local prisons and jails,” according to the OMB website.

The budget also gives $85 million to the Department of Labor for programs that “provide employment-centered services to adult and youth ex-offenders and at-risk youth.”

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2010, there were 588,000 blacks, 499,600 whites, and 345,900 Hispanics incarcerated for more than a year.

CNSNews.com contacted the White House’s Office of Management and Budget for comment and was told to email questions. The OMB did not return CNSNews.com’s email at press time.

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