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Nationwide, nearly 700,000 prisoners are released annually. If historic trends hold, nearly two-thirds will be re-incarcerated within three years. In an effort to stop this trend and improve the quality of life for citizens in affected communities, the Manhattan Institute worked with the City of Newark to develop the Newark Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative, testing a new model for prisoner re-entry policy in America.


Newark is a city profoundly impacted by incarceration and recidivism. In a city of approximately 280,000 residents, more than 1,700 individuals return to Newark from state prison annually and an additional 1,400 Newarkers are released from the local jail, the Essex County Correctional Facility, every month. Further, at any given time, more than 6,500 Newarkers are under Federal Probation, State Parole or County Probation. Of those returning home, it has been estimated that 62% will be re-arrested, re-convicted or re-incarcerated within three years of release.

The cost to Newark citizens, and New Jerseyans as a whole, of this cycle of arresting, incarcerating and re-arresting the same individuals time and time again is not simply the cost of incarceration, which tops out at an estimated $48,000 per year. This cycle contributes to unemployment, family destabilization, and a disruption of the economic and social fabric of communities. Put simply, incarceration and recidivism compound community fragility.

Under the vision of Newark Mayor Cory Booker, and in consultation with the Manhattan Institute, the Office of Reentry opened its doors in April 2009 as an initiative of the Mayor's Department of Economic & Housing Development to confront this problem head-on. Through this office, the Mayor seeks a new approach: an emphasis on helping formerly incarcerated individuals quickly find jobs, in the belief that "rapid attachment to work" can provide alternatives to crime and new hope for the future.

How It Works

The Office of Reentry is charged with developing and carrying out a strategic plan for reentry. It also is the operational hub for reentry services in the city. It develops and manages programs that assist formerly incarcerated individuals to rapidly find – and keep – a job; oversees a data-driven, performance-management system of reentry service providers; and provides facilitated access to services by conducting intakes and needs-assessments at two central locations.

The Office of Reentry also obtains resources – whether public or philanthropic – to serve formerly incarcerated Newarkers and their families. To this end, the Office of Reentry regularly reviews process and outcome data of programs to ensure that critical benchmarks, such as reductions in recidivism and increases in workforce participation, are being met.

Among the programs overseen by the Office of Reentry is the Newark Prisoner Reentry Initiative (NPRI). Newark was the first City in the country to receive a Prisoner Reentry Initiative grant from the United States Department of Labor to bring a reentry system "to scale." Under this program, the City has provided more than 1,400 formerly incarcerated individuals with job development, job retention, case management, and mentoring services. The program has achieved a 73% "entered employment" rate (measured by placement in the first quarter following exit from the program), an average hourly wage of more than $9.00/hr., and a six-month "job retention" rate of nearly 70%. The one-year recidivism rate for NPRI participants is well below the state average. All NPRI contracts are performance-based, and no agency will receive the full amount of the contract without meeting aggressive benchmarks set by the City.

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Gaining Ground: Prisoner Reentry In Newark" a Manhattan Institute film



Media Inquiries/Press: Communications, 212.599.7000,

The Value of Work-First

Welfare: Work first still works best, Lee Bowes and Larry Mone, New York Post
From Prison to a Paycheck, Howard Husock, Wall Street Journal

Gov. Christie Announces NJ Initiative
On November 28, 2011, Gov. Chris Christie announced his plan to reform the state's prison system. The Christie administration commissioned the Manhattan Institute to analyze the current system and in March of 2011, the institute presented a white paper with recommendations for reforms.
White Paper: Prisoner Reentry Services in New Jersey: A Plan to Reduce Recidivism.


Gov. Christie aims to offer non-violent drug offenders treatment and counseling, not send them to prison, The Star Ledger, 11-29-11
From Prison to a Paycheck, Howard Husock, The Wall Street Journal, 08-04-12

Ingrid Johnson
Ingrid Johnson is Chair of the Newark Reentry Advisory Board and manages the Office of Reentry for the City of Newark, which oversees the Newark Prisoner Reentry Initiative and other reentry projects managed by the City of Newark. In addition to operating reentry programs, the Office of Reentry coordinates services among governmental and community organizations to improve the delivery of services to formerly incarcerated individuals, manages performance of city agencies and contracted service providers to improve effectiveness of reentry programs, and works to expand resources for reentry initiatives. Ingrid's work in Newark is sponsored by the Manhattan Institute.

US Dept of Labor Grant
On Tuesday, September 9, 2008, the Manhattan Institute was honored to participate in an announcement by the City of Newark, U.S. Department of Labor and State of New Jersey of a $5 million grant to support Newark's Prisoner Reentry Initiative. This initiative is the culmination of over a year of joint efforts by the Manhattan Institute, the City of Newark, the Nicholson Foundation.

For more information, click here.

Recent CSLL Publications
Civic Report 57. Preparing Prisoners for Employment: The Power of Small Rewards
By Anne Piehl
May 2009
Civic Bulletin 51.Moving Men into the Mainstream: Best Practices in Prisoner Reentry Assistance
March 2008



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that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility.

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