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Employment is Key to Reentry Success

| August 10, 2017

According to the Bureau of Justice statistics, approximately one in three adults in the US have a criminal record, and men with criminal records account for about 34 percent of all nonworking men ages 25 to 54.  There is a total estimated loss to the national economy of $78 to $87 billion every year as a result of people with criminal records being unemployed or underemployed.

With the push for criminal justice reform in the states, policymakers across the political spectrum are recognizing the scope and importance of this issue, and employment has been identified as a key reentry issue that must be addressed to reduce recidivism and improve public safety.  Federal funded reentry program statistics indicate that those offenders obtaining employment soon after release are far less likely to recidivate.

To that end, Right on Crime is embarking on the development and dissemination of a handbook for employers on hiring individuals with criminal histories.  The “primer” will include sections on why it is important to provide employment opportunities to  individuals with criminal backgrounds and  what to expect when employing returning citizens.

I will be heading up the effort and have received commitments to collaborate on the project with Right on Crime from the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, a 3,300 member association of businesses and industry, the state’s department of labor, Louisiana Workforce Commission, and the Louisiana Department of Corrections.

With the benefit of my experience in prison reentry work prior to joining Right on Crime and knowing the stories of a number of successful returned citizens, their first hand experiences in obtaining employment will also serve to inform the content of the employer handbook.

The finished product should be available by September 2017.


ELAIN ELLERBE joined Right on Crime in September, 2016 as State Director for Louisiana.

Her expertise includes over thirty years of business and non-profit management.  For the past 20 years, Elain has focused her work in the area of prison reentry programming. Elain’s expertise in reentry program development and implementation as well as providing programs that address the special issues facing families impacted by the criminal justice system have been recognized nationally and in Louisiana. In 2013, Elain was named to the Louisiana Justice Hall of Fame, along with her husband Michael, posthumously, for their life long work in the area of reentry.  In 2014, Elain was selected by the Louisiana Women’s Legislative Caucus as their Heroine of the Year, for her commitment to assist the incarcerated and their families.

Elain holds a Master’s in Human Services & Counseling/Criminal Justice from Liberty University, and holds certifications in a number of evidence-based programs, including Nurturing Parenting, Inside/Out Dad, Bridges Out of Poverty, and Moral Reconation Therapy.