Re-entry program gets on its feet

    With foundation help, Mayor Nutter kicked off the opening of a “sheltered workshop” in North Philadelphia yesterday.

    A new program in Philadelphia give ex-offenders low-skill jobs as a way to get them integrated into society. With foundation help, Mayor Nutter kicked off the opening of a “sheltered workshop” in North Philadelphia yesterday.

    Listen:
    [audio: 090505spreentry.mp3]

    The Prisoner Re-entry Program creates a one-stop shop for employment, life-skills training and support services, for those who have recently been released from prison. In partnership with Goodwill Industries, the workers earn $8 dollars an hour with the expectation that they will use the experience to get permanent jobs.

    Clarence Smith was released from state prison in September. He says the program will help him make up for lost time.

    Smith: I always was trained in computers I was in the service before I got into trouble. And after that I got into trouble and it helps with my experience to be in the work environment. Not just teaching me how to do a specific task but also fill in that big gap that was in my resume before.

    Smith is one of 16 workers at the site, which has the potential to employ 400 people. The city also offers tax breaks to those who hire ex-offenders. But no company has yet to take advantage of the program.

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