By Post Staff
A coalition of public agencies and nonprofit groups met last week with local officials, calling for expanded services to meet the desperate needs of formerly incarcerated people in Oakland and throughout Alameda County.
The meeting, held last Friday at the State Building in Oakland, was called by the Alameda County Reentry Network to make propose more effective services to the formerly incarcerated in order to reduce recidivism and improve public safety.
The immediate focus is on income, job placement and training, said Arnold Perkins, who moderated the meeting. Perkins, former director of the Alameda County Public Health Department, currently works with Mayor Ron Dellums developing a public safety program.
“We have to work as a team to get this done for income support, workforce training and employment,” Perkins aid. We know that income is a priority, and folks are going to get income anyway they can.”
Because 70 percent of people coming out of prison end up back in prison, Perkins said, we must face that “We have a failed system.”
He pointed out that 90 percent of people in jail eventually are released. In Alameda County, there are 16,438 people who are on parole or probation.
Especially impacted are people of color, who are 84 percent of parolees. African Americans are the largest group, comprising 67 percent.
“These are sobering statistics,” said Gay Plair Cobb, Chief Executive Officer of the Private Industry Council, who described the network’s projects, including a resource directory that will make available the full range of local services.
Speaking for All of Us or None, an organization of the formerly incarcerated, Linda Evans agreed with the network’s focus on jobs and income.“ Employment is what breeds stability in people, stability in housing and family reunification.”
She also emphasized that individuals coming out of prison need public health services.
“They need a chance to heal from the damage, the suffering that prison inflicts on people. It’s part of the transition.”