Thursday, May 29, 2008
One-time thief Heber Nixon Jr. has filled out his share of futile job applications. All said being a felon wouldn't stand in his way _ but the promised calls from managers never came. He finally got a second chance when he showed up at a construction site looking for work and found a sympathetic builder. Now, the city of Philadelphia is making a concerted effort to encourage the hiring of ex-convicts amid a renewed interest nationwide in dealing with high recidivism, growing crime rates and exploding prison populations.
Philadelphia averaged a murder a day the past two years and has been sued to reduce its overcrowded, record-high jail population.
So on his 100th day in office last month, Mayor Michael Nutter announced a program, being headed by an ex-offender, that gives $10,000 a year in municipal tax credits to companies that hire former prisoners and provide them tuition support or vocational training.
"This is one of the best crime-prevention programs we'll ever have," he said.
Initiatives to help former prisoners re-enter society have become a renewed priority across the country as new data shine a spotlight on staggering rates of incarceration and recidivism.
For the first time in U.S. history, more than one of every 100 adults is in jail or prison, a study released in February found. Federal data show about 700,000 people are released from state and federal prisons each year. [Mark Godsey]