San Francisco City Officials and Residents to Tackle Prisoner Reentry and Employment at Summit

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San Francisco, CA – On Monday September 29, 2008, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, Public Defender Jeff Adachi, District Attorney Kamala Harris, and Sheriff Michael Hennessey will convene at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts for the largest reentry summit in Northern California. The Summit was organized to tackle the problem of parolee recidivism, a main contributing factor to San Francisco’s crime rate. Reentry Works: Creating Employment Opportunities for Formerly Incarcerated San Franciscans will bring together elected officials, policymakers, non-profits, academics, employers and formerly incarcerated individuals to share information, practices and strategies for helping former inmates find employment after release and avoid going back to prison or jail.

Approximately 9,500 adult probationers and parolees live in San Francisco: 50% of parolees are functionally illiterate; 27% parolees and probationers need mental health services; 74.6% require substance abuse treatment; 79.1% require some level of housing assistance; and 70% have a high need for education and employment services.

Many have difficulty finding employment or qualifying for social services due to their criminal records and the stigma attached to being an ex-offender. Others lack the education and skills necessary to compete in the workforce. Federal and state law forbids the hiring of ex-felons for certain occupations. As a result of these legal, social and economic obstacles to finding lawful employment and achieving successful reentry, 70% of parolees and 50% of probationers will end up back in prison or jail within a year.

With violent crime at a critical point in San Francisco, it is imperative that policymakers, experts, and community members develop concrete solutions to protect the community by ensuring that San Franciscans released from prisons and jails do not reoffend.

Reentry Works,a free public event, will take place Monday, September 29, 2008, at the Novellus Theater, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 700 Howard Street, 8:00am to 4:00pm. A welcome letter from Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama will be read. Panels will be moderated by Carolina Guzman and Antoinette Davis of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency Additional confirmed panelists include: Dorsey Nunn, All of Us or None; Jessie Warner, National Employment Law Project; Chief Patrick Boyd, San Francisco Adult Probation Department; and Kathy Jett, California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation. Keynote address, “Nothing Stops a Bullet Like a Job,” will be delivered by Joseph Raymond Lucero, Homeboy Industries. For more information, visit www.sfreentry.com or call 415-575-4390.

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