Up to 1,350 formerly incarcerated men and women will receive job training and a path to permanent employment with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) over the next three years, thanks to an agreement announced recently by Mayor Eric Garcetti.
“Los Angeles has been a city of second chances from its very beginnings — and today, we’re investing in redemption and opportunity for our people, in our time,” said Mayor Garcetti. “When formerly incarcerated men and women return home after being released from jail or prison, they deserve every chance to turn their lives around, earn an honest living, and redefine themselves through integrity and hard work. My administration is committed to making those opportunities possible, and we are grateful to have a committed partner in Caltrans.”
The $8.93 million pact between Caltrans and the Mayor’s Office of Reentry will provide men and women on probation or parole with immediate, transitional employment on Caltrans work crews. During the transitional period, participants will also receive training in job readiness, life skills, and financial literacy, as well as cognitive behavior therapy and other services. At the conclusion of the transitional job period, they will be placed in permanent employment.
“I am excited to support this initiative to permanently employ formerly incarcerated men and women,” said Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson. “I appreciate Mayor Garcetti’s leadership, and his commitment to bringing new opportunities to Angelenos who need and deserve a chance to make a new start.”
Removing barriers to employment is a key priority for Mayor Garcetti. In April, the Mayor signed an Equitable Workforce Executive Directive, instructing City departments to prioritize L.A.’s most underemployed communities — including veterans, the formerly incarcerated and disconnected youth — in the hiring of about 5,000 new workers over the next three years. He has also formed a Blue Ribbon Commission on Employment Equity, an alliance of private and public sector employers committed to providing opportunities for the formerly incarcerated and others who have been historically excluded from upwardly-mobile jobs.
“I have seen firsthand the expression of pride, joy and ownership illustrated by the employees of Loco’L, Chef Roy Choi’s recently opened healthy fast food restaurant in Watts. Chef Roy is hiring local workers who have had a troubled past, but deserve a second chance and an opportunity to better themselves. This pact with Caltrans is a big step towards positively empowering those who need it the most,” said Councilmember Joe Buscaino.
More than 45,000 people are paroled to Los Angeles County each year, with over 163,000 individuals passing through the County Jail system annually. The majority of these individuals return to the City of Los Angeles, and research shows that up to 70% of formerly incarcerated individuals identify employment as their biggest hurdle to successful reentry. A recent study estimated that up to 90% of formerly incarcerated Californians are unemployed at any given time.
“Caltrans looks forward to developing this agreement and providing a meaningful work experience for these individuals through its parolee program in partnership with the City of Los Angeles,” said Caltrans District 7 Director Carrie Bowen. “This benefits the environment as well as taxpayers, making this a win-win for everyone.”