Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Philadelphia making a smart choice

Philadelphia is giving $10,000 a year in municipal tax credits to companies that hire former prisoners and provide them tuition support or vocational training. Read the article here. This is the right step to slow the rate of recidivism, which is now at about 80%*. People coming out of prison need education and vocational training. We can do something about this. These people are human, just as we are. Yes, they've made bad decisions in life but God has forgiven them, hasn't he?

In April, President Bush signed the Second Chance Act which authorizes more than $330 million over two years to help government agencies and nonprofit groups lower recidivism.

Dr. Mimi Silbert, who started the Delancey Street Foundation, is one of my personal heroes. The foundation is a wonderful organization who trains and educates ex-convicts to prepare them for life on the outside. The foundation has never accepted any grants or money from the government, running purely on money generated by their moving companies, restaurant, furniture making business and Christmas tree lots to name a few. There are no paid employees of the foundation as each member "learns" the trades from members who have lived there longer than them. The residents earn at least a GED and learn three marketable skills to use when they graduate the program (the minimum stay is 2 years but the average stay is 4 years). It is amazing to think that everyone from the accounting staff to the janitorial staff is an ex-convict, learning their trade from another. If you live in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Greensboro, North Carolina, New York or New Mexico, please consider using Delancey Street as your movers if you are moving or buy your Christmas tree from their lot. They also have an amazing restaurant on the Embarcadero in San Francisco as well as a bookstore. I have used Delancey Street Movers many times and they have been some of the most professional men I've ever been around. They are truly grateful for your business and I cannot begin to explain to you the feeling of knowing you've helped one of these people. If you'd like to know more about the foundation, please ask me. I'd love to tell you more about it.

Now the graduates of Delancey will have an easier time finding a job.

*This number is from a book I read that is a few years old. The number could be a little different now.

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