Sens. Coleman and Gonzales Announce Upcoming Legislation at Reentry Cash Program Launch Event
Megan Giovannetti | [email protected] | (310) 905-7811
Justice Impacted Coloradans Call Cash Program Essential to Rebuilding Their Lives
Denver, CO – August 23, 2023 – Today, Senators James Coleman and Julie Gonzales announced their intention to introduce legislation that would provide more meaningful financial support to people returning from incarceration in Colorado. The announcement was made at a launch event hosted by the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) – the largest provider of reentry employment services in the nation – for a pilot program helping hundreds of formerly incarcerated Coloradans rebuild their lives. Reentry cash provides immediate stability for people returning home after incarceration by offering financial support during the pinnacle point of their transition back into society.
Currently, people returning from incarceration in Colorado receive $100 in “gate money” as they transition back to their community. The reentry cash program, facilitated by CEO in Denver and Colorado Springs, will serve 100 Coloradans with a monthly stipend of $500 for up to six months to support basic daily needs during the critical transition point of reentry. This pilot is set out to measure the effectiveness of reentry cash when coupled with program services on employment and public safety. The evaluation is being conducted by the Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab at the University of Denver, in partnership with the Colorado Equitable Economic Mobility Initiative (CEEMI), and with support from an Urban Institute WorkRise grant. The results of the reentry cash pilot will directly influence the forthcoming bill announced by Sens. Coleman and Gonzales and be introduced in the next legislative session.
“Poverty and incarceration are inextricably linked, largely due to limited housing and work force options,” says Senator James Coleman. “Formerly incarcerated individuals need access to resources like reentry cash and workforce training to earn a living wage and stop the poverty to prison pipeline.”
“Formerly incarcerated people face challenges and lack support and stability upon release,” says Senator Julie Gonzales. “By modeling legislation after the Cash+ reentry program, we can set people up for success, prevent people returning to prison and save money in the long run by providing interventions up front instead of paying for prison beds.”
The program builds off the success of a pandemic relief response where CEO gave a cash stimulus of $1.5 million to more than 600 formerly incarcerated Coloradans transitioning back into the community. In a third-party report published by MDRC, recipients of this Returning Citizens Stimulus (RCS) package reported using this cash to meet basic needs such as covering food and rent, all while preparing themselves to find permanent employment through CEO’s job coaching and placement services.
"Providing cash support along with reentry services for returning citizens helps transform lives,” says Sam Schaeffer, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of CEO. "We saw the immense impact of the pandemic response Returning Citizens Stimulus for over 10,000 people across the country. Scaling this initiative will provide people with security and stability after leaving incarceration. That’s why we are thrilled to be working with Senators Coleman and Gonzales to demonstrate the effectiveness of these efforts and how reentry cash can be codified into legislation that will set more Coloradans returning home up for success."
At the event, people who have received cash spoke of the direct impact this program has had on their lives. The reentry cash program is supported by local organizations Second Chance Center and The Don’t Look Back Center.
About Center for Employment Opportunities
The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) provides immediate, effective, and comprehensive employment services exclusively for those recently released from incarceration. CEO currently operates in over 30 cities and is dedicated to ensuring that justice-impacted job seekers have opportunities to achieve social and economic mobility. For more information, please visit https://ceoworks.org.