Helping Individuals with criminal records Reenter through Employment

Pennsylvania

I. Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry

Contact:
Labor and Industry Bldg., Room 1700
7th and Forster Streets
Harrisburg, PA 17120
717-787-5279
Web Site: www.dli.state.pa.us

Information about State Department of Labor resources may be of interest to:
• potential employers looking for incentives to hire individuals with criminal histories;
• service providers and individuals with criminal histories who are looking for assistance in finding employment; and
• researchers and policy makers looking at current programs to ascertain what programs are effective and serve their intended purpose.

A. Federal Bonding Program
The Federal Bonding Program provides fidelity bonding insurance coverage to individuals with criminal histories and other high-risk job applicants who are qualified, but fail to get jobs because regular commercial bonding is denied due to their backgrounds.

Contact:
Pennsylvania Bureau of Workforce Investment
Labor and Industry Bldg., 12th Floor
7th and Forster Streets
Harrisburg, PA 17120
717-787-6915
717-772-5478 fax
Web Site: www.dli.state.pa.us

B. Tax Credits
The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal tax credit to reduce the federal tax liability of private for profit employers to be used as an incentive for employers to hire individuals from eight different targeted groups: TANF recipients, veterans, ex-felons, high risk youth, summer youth, Food Stamp recipients, SSI recipients, and vocational rehabilitation referrals.

Contact:
Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, 12th Floor
Labor and Industry Bldg.
7th and Forster Streets
Harrisburg, PA 17120
717-783-3676
717-787-5785 fax
Web Site: www.dli.state.pa.us/

C. Unemployment Insurance Office
Unemployment compensation is a social insurance program designed to provide benefits to most individuals out of work, generally through no fault of their own, for periods between jobs. In order to be eligible for benefits, jobless workers must demonstrate that they have worked, usually measured by amount of wages and/or weeks of work, and must be able and available for work.

The unemployment compensation program is based upon federal law, but administered by states under state law.

Unemployment compensation is a social insurance program designed to provide benefits to most individuals out of work, generally through no fault of their own, for periods between jobs. In order to be eligible for benefits, jobless workers must demonstrate that they have worked, usually measured by amount of wages and/or weeks of work, and must be able and available for work. The unemployment compensation program is based upon federal law, but administered by states under state law. Forms and information may be obtained at any local Resource Center and via the internet at the web site below. (See also Section VII of this site "Local Service Providers.")

Contact:
Claims Information Center
Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry
Labor and Industry Bldg., 6th Floor
7th and Forster Streets
Harrisburg, PA 17121
888-313-7284
717-783-3734 fax
Web Site: www.dli.state.pa.us/

back to top

II. Criminal Record Repository

This is the agency individuals may contact to obtain a copy of their state rap sheet. The criminal record repository can also tell the individual who else is legally entitled to have access to his or her record.

To obtain a copy of a criminal record, a "Request for Criminal Record Check" (Form SP4-164) must be sent to the contact address below, along with a certified check or money order in the amount of $10.

Contact:
Bureau of Records and Information Services
Pennsylvania State Police
1800 Elmerton Ave.
Harrisburg, PA 17110
717-783-5588
717-772-3681 fax

back to top

III. State Attorney General

Employers and service providers may obtain information from the state attorney general regarding occupational bars, the licensing of individuals with criminal records in certain jobs, and whether the state has laws that limit what employers may ask job applicants or protections against employment discrimination based on a criminal record.

Contact:
Office of the Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
Strawberry Square
Harrisburg, PA 17120
717-787-3391
717-783-1107 fax
E-Mail: info@attorneygeneral.gov
Web Site: www.attorneygeneral.gov/

back to top

IV. State Department of Corrections

New Organization Name

Pennsylvania Correctional Industries (PCI) aims to maximize inmate employment while providing vocational training and work experience. The program provides inmates with job skills that are marketable in high-level production and manufacturing occupations. Inmates are trained in 115 different job titles, including machine and equipment operators, laundry workers, cannery workers, shipping and receiving clerks, painters, meat cutters, bookkeepers and optical lab technicians. To qualify for the program, inmates must be in good standing and able to read at a fifth grade level.

Contact:
Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
Bureau of Correctional Industries
717-731-7135
Web Site: www.cor.state.pa.us/

Bureau of Community Corrections

The Bureau of Community Corrections supervises the residential treatment services provided to inmates housed in the Department’s 14 community correction centers and nearly 50 private contract facilities. Programs include transition services from state correctional institutions to the community, as well as a halfway-back program for parolees encountering difficulties in the community. Community corrections centers are instruments of the Department of Corrections that provide initial support to the resident in his or her first steps back to the community through: counseling services to both individuals and their family; employment assistance; vocational and educational guidance; and referrals to other public and private agencies. Additional information is available at www.cor.state.pa.us/programs2.html.

Contact:

Community Orientation Reintegration Program

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections recently began a new pre-release program, the Community Orientation Reintegration program. The first phase begins five weeks before an inmate is released to parole. The inmate is taken out of all other programs and given a “booster shot” of programs, which includes such elements as drug and alcohol programs and anger management. In Phase II, inmates are released to a community corrections center/halfway house, where they receive social services and job assistance and continue drug and alcohol treatment and relapse prevention. If an inmate has not received drug and alcohol treatment during incarceration, he or she is placed in a residential treatment program under contract with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections for 30 to 90 days. Inmates who have received treatment during incarceration attend day treatment at the community corrections center. Once inmates find a job they are allowed to leave the center and enter regular parole. A description of the program can be found at: http://www.cor.state.pa.us/COR%20Presentation%20Final.pdf

Contact:
Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
2520 Lisburn Road
P.O. Box 598
Camp Hill, PA 17001-0598
717-730-2704
Web Site: www.cor.state.pa.us/

back to top

V. Office of Probation and Parole Services

Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole

The Office of Probation and Parole Services does not offer any specific program for employment assistance. Services are offered on an individual level by agents, either by bringing together unemployed parolees and probationers under their supervision to provide them with relevant information or by telling them about openings and other necessary information on an individual level.

Contact:
Office of Probation and Parole Services
Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole
1101 South Front St., Suite 5100
Harrisburg, PA 17104-2517
717-787-5699
E-Mail: pubinfo@pbpp.state.pa.us

Contact:

back to top

VI. Legal Assistance

Free or low-cost legal resources, both in civil and criminal law, are helpful to individuals with criminal histories in learning about relevant state laws governing the expungement or sealing of criminal histories or addressing other legal issues resulting from having a criminal history.

A. State Public Defender

Contact:
Public Defender Association of Pennsylvania
115 State St.
Harrisburg, PA 17101
717-234-7403
717-234-7462 fax

B. Legal Services

Contact:
Pennsylvania Legal Services
118 Locust St.
Harrisburg, PA 17101-1414
717-236-9486
717-233-4088 fax
Web Site: www.palegalservices.org

Community Legal Services, Inc. has experience with a wide variety of criminal records and employment issues, including filing EEOC charges and community education on pardons, expungements, and employment rights.

Contact:
Community Legal Services, Inc.
1424 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
215-981-3700

C. State Bar Association

Contact:
Pennsylvania Bar Association
100 South St.
P.O. Box 186
Harrisburg, PA 17108
717-238-6715
717-238-1204 fax
E-Mail: info@pabar.org
Web Site: www.pabar.org

back to top

VII. Local Service Providers

Community agencies are available to assist individuals with criminal records find employment. This information will inform individuals with criminal records about government agencies and community-based organizations that assist with employment, education or vocational training. Researchers and policy makers may find this information useful in identifying agencies and service providers in order to evaluate the effectiveness of these programs.

Philadelphia Youth Network

The Philadelphia Youth Network runs Youth Opportunity (YO) centers for out-of-school youth under the age of 21 living in the Empowerment Zone. The centers offer services to youths with criminal records and work with the juvenile justice system. However, there are no specialized services directed towards this population, and there are no focused efforts to gather specific information on clients with records. The centers provide a number of services including re-engagement, job readiness, education services, and referrals to other needed services. Clients receive follow-up services two years following job placement.

Contact:
Philadelphia Youth Network
John F. Kennedy Center, Room 681
734 Schuylkill Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19146
215-875-3823
215-875-5740 fax

Metropolitan Career Center/STRIVE Philadelphia

Metropolitan Career Center (MCC) is a private, non-profit accredited school that serves under-skilled and economically disadvantaged Philadelphia youth and adults, enabling them to find and keep jobs. The Center offers five roads to employment, ranging from STRIVE, a four-week quick "attachment to the workforce" program, to a 60-week training course in computer hardware and software support that confers an Associate Degree in Specialized Technology Training and is provided free of charge to qualified students. MCC/STRIVE is an intensive four-week program. The program stresses the development of interpersonal skills, team building, and employment readiness. Through structured classes and group interaction, students develop job application skills, including resume writing, interviewing, and telephone usage. Students also receive individual counseling to help them address personal and family issues or other barriers. Referrals to outside agencies for assistance with housing, childcare, and other needs are made as necessary. Formal collaborations have been developed with Children’s Aid Society of Pennsylvania and the Tenant Action Group to facilitate students’ easy access to these supplemental services. Additionally, STRIVE staff maintain an active job bank and refer students to appropriate interviews. After students graduate from STRIVE, they can take advantage of these services and participate in Job Club activities until they are employed. In addition, MCC instituted a pilot program in 2002, an enhancement to STRIVE called Employment Plus in which STRIVE graduates receive more intensive follow-up and support services for 12 months after graduation to encourage and support long-term job retention and skill upgrading. These services focus on helping participants to overcome problems in the workplace and in their personal lives that could lead to their termination or resignation. Lastly, GED and computer classes offered on Saturdays are geared toward helping graduates gain advancement in the workplace.

Contact:
162 West Chelten Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19144
215-843-6615
215-843-7661 fax
Web Site: www.strivecentral.com/sites/national/mcc.htm

Goodwill Industries of Pittsburgh

Goodwill Industries of Pittsburgh runs one of the Team Pennsylvania Career Link sites, which provide computer skills and job search services to the public. Any further services require that the individual be recommended to the organization and that the recommending party provide payment. However, these services are provided to all types of people, including those with criminal records and other significant barriers to employment including developmental and other disabilities. These further services begin with a one to four-day assessment, depending on needs, in which the individual is evaluated for skill level, job interests, and other necessary information. Participants are then given job training, educational assistance, computer-based training, driver training, on-the-job paid work training and placement in the community. Goodwill also offers different workshops focused on employment and provides referrals for any other requirements. Goodwill offers 18 months of follow-up services, including intervention at job sites and other support services.

Contact:
Goodwill Industries of Pittsburgh
2600 East Carson St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
412-390-2327
Web Site: www.goodwillpitt.org

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

The Carnegie Library provides generalized employment preparation and job-finding services, but does not provide any specialized services for individuals with criminal records. Among the services provided is assistance with resume preparation, GED and other educational assistance, guidance in selecting a college, providing test booklets for test preparation, descriptions of the various types of jobs available, assistance with setting up e-mail accounts, and classes on internet and computer program use.

Contact:
Job & Career Education Center
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
4400 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
412-622-3133
412-622-3136 fax
E-Mail: jcec@carnegielibrary.org
Web Site: www.carnegielibrary.org/locations/jcec

Methodist Union of Social Agencies

Methodist Union of Social Agencies (MUSA) runs a program for single parents that provides job readiness, life skills, job search, job placement, and job retention assistance and other follow-up services to clients from Homestead, the Steel Valley, and Pittsburgh (95 percent of whom are people with criminal records) through a Welfare-to-Work grant from the county and the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. Clients begin by undergoing a full one-on-one assessment to determine their needs. There is also a six-month follow-up period following successful job placement, in which full services, including any vocational training, continue to be available.

Contact:
Methodist Union of Social Agencies
131 East 9th Ave.
Homestead, PA 15120
412-461-1800
Web Site: www.musa.org

Southwestern Pennsylvania Reentry Project

A coalition of non-profit organizations (including MUSA and the Mon Valley Initiative) formed in 2001-2002, aims to provide a whole range of services, including job readiness preparation, as well as trying to organize a smooth transition from incarceration back into the community, by making people coming out aware of the resources available to them. The coalition has begun forming relationships with local correctional institutions (FEI Pittsburgh, a nearby state institution has a representative on the coalition’s committee and a demonstration program has been set up with 50 inmates at the Allegheny County Jail to assess inmate needs and begin job readiness services). Coalition members plan to offer a matrix of services to anyone in the local area with a criminal record, including housing opportunities, drug and alcohol treatment, mental health services, transportation, child care, family support, etc. People coming out of prison or jail can come to any member organization and will then be referred to other agencies that can provide needed services not provided by that organization.

Contact:
Mon Valley Initiative
303 East 8th Ave.
Homestead, PA 15120
412-464-4000

Ramsey Education and Development Institute

Ramsey Education and Development Institute (REDI) provides a number of educational and job-preparation services to any Pennsylvania resident over the age of 18. (Approximately 25 percent of clients served have criminal records.) The services provided include GED classes at a variety of levels, basic and advanced computer skills classes, assistance in preparing job applications and a Welfare-to-Work program for unemployed and underemployed mothers. REDI also has a network of referrals to address clients’ other needs.

Contact:
Ramsey Education and Development Institute
17 West Airy
Norristown, PA 19401
610-279-0301

Reading-Berks Emergency Shelter

Reading-Berks Emergency Shelter (RBES) provides a number of services, including: around-the-clock childcare services; job-readiness and placement through RBES Job Quest; primary health care services through the Reading Health Dispensary; shelter services that include case management, goal-planning, life skills instruction and aftercare services as well as a safe place to sleep, eat and shower for families and individuals; and transitional and permanent housing programs for families and individuals. RBES Job Quest is a three-week intensive training course focused on attitudinal and behavioral change to help chronically unemployed members of the community find and maintain full-time employment. RBES Job Quest is a replication of the STRIVE program in New York City. The program is targeted toward men and women age 18 and up to overcome employment barriers such as childhood abuse, lack of formal education, inconsistent work histories, substance abuse and criminal histories. Also, the new Soft Skills program teaches basic skills needed to find and maintain entry-level employment. The program includes a free three-week workshop, interviews skills training, resume and cover letter writing classes, basic computer skills, and two years of active support and follow-up for both the graduate and his or her new employer to encourage long-term success.

Contact:
RBES Job Quest
430 N. 2nd St.
Reading, PA 19601
610-374-4696
610-374-3165 fax
Web Site: www.rbes.org/default.asp

Pennsylvania Prison Society

The Pennsylvania Prison Society offers re-entry services to recently released people with criminal records and to those transitioning from welfare to work who also have a criminal record. Life skills workshops, job development and employment services are available. The Prison Society also offers inmate family services, elder prisoners services, restorative justice programs, advocacy effort and community outreach and education.

Contact:
Pennsylvania Prison Society
2000 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia, PA 19130
215-564-4775
215-564-7926 fax
Web Site: www.prisonsociety.org

Program for Female Offenders

The Program for Female Offenders is a free program that provides a variety of services to adult women who either have a drug or alcohol abuse problem or who have had some contact with the criminal justice system. The services provided by the organization include drug education and prevention programs, screening, case management (i.e. life skills programs), financial assistance, employment assistance (i.e. job placement and computer training), GED courses, counseling, nutritional and other services.

Contact:
Program for Female Offenders
1515 Derry Street
Harrisburg, PA 17104
717-238-9950
717-236-3585 fax
E-Mail: program@epix.net
Web Site: www.stophiv.com/details.asp?id=2074

Jewish Employment and Vocational Service

The Jewish Employment and Vocational Service (JEVS) is a not-for-profit social service agency that focuses on enhancing the employability and self-sufficiency of clients through a broad range of education, training, health and rehabilitation programs. JEVS’ Prison Program provides vocational training and vocational assessment services to the inmates of the Philadelphia prison system by offering hands-on skills training to increase employability once individuals return to society. Inmates may participate in a wide range of vocational classes, including: welding; building maintenance; horticulture; word processing; desktop publishing; and environmental maintenance. In addition, the "World of Work" program emphasizes the steps involved in seeking and retaining employment, including completing job applications, writing resumes, preparing for job interviews, coping with pressure of the workplace and achieving a positive work ethic. JEVS works in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Prison Society to provide re-entry and other services to the prison population, as well as the growing Adopt-a-Program where public/private sector partnerships are established to help prisoners secure employment or appropriate programs upon their re-entry to the community.

Contact:
JEVS Prison Program
Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center
8301 State Road
Philadelphia, PA 19136
215-685-7114
Web Site: www.jevs.org

Baker Industries, Inc.

Baker Industries employs hard to place individuals including individuals serving parole sentences. Baker Industries performs outsourcing services. The agency serves as a transition step toward unsubsidized employment by emphasizing soft skills like being on time for work, good attendance, and productive interaction with co-workers and supervisors. Walk-in applicants are accepted.

Contact:
Thomas E. Byron, Director of Employee Relations
184 Pennsylvania Ave.
Malvern, PA 19355
610-296-9795
610-251-9802 fax
Web Site: : www.bakerindustries.org

Philadelphia Workforce Development Corporation

With more than 20 years’ experience, PWDC is the region’s premier workforce development agency, serving more than 10,000 job seekers every year. Whether you’re looking for your first job, or a new career, PWDC, in partnership with the Pennsylvania CareerLink system and Department of Public Welfare has the ability to deliver a comprehensive set of services to make you the right person for the job. PWDC offers the Fresh New Start program, which is designed for Pennsylvania CareerLink members with criminal backgrounds who face challenges in obtaining employment. Information and referrals are provided to social and job search resources.

Contact:
Philadelphia Workforce Development Corporation
1617 John F. Kennedy Boulevard, 13th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103–1813
215-557-2625
Web Site: http://www.pwdc.org/jobseekers/jobseekers_workshops.html

CRAM (Christian Recovery Aftercare Ministry)

CRAM, Inc. (Christian Recovery Aftercare Ministry) is a faith-based 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide pre-release and re-entry services to inmates, formerly incarcerated individuals, and their families.  CRAM is centrally located in Harrisburg, PA. However, it provides services in five (5) additional counties in Pennsylvania:  York, Adams, Franklin, Cumberland, and Lebanon.  CRAM services include, but are not limited to: employment preparation, assistance with housing and transportation, mentoring, family reunification, community service opportunities, distribution of household items and referrals to other community resources.

Contact:
Juanita Edrington-Grant
Chief Executive Officer
509 Division Street
Harrisurg, PA 17110
717-234-3664
E-Mail: juanitagrant@verizon.net
Web Site: www.craminc.org

Career & Workforce Development Center East

The CWDCE of the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh provides services to unemployed and underemployed residents of the East End and surrounding areas of Allegheny County, specializing in helping people with criminal records. In collaboration with the State Board of Parole and Probation, CWDCE hosts the annual Get Back To Work Help Fair, a two-day program of workshops and a service provider and employer fair. CWDCE also provides a three-day Basic Foundation Skills Work-Ready Training. The Board of Probation and Parole provides recently released individuals weekly ASCRA meetings at various Y locations. The also CWDCE hosts a weekly employment group, providing assistance resume writing, job search and interview techniques, basic computer skills.

Contact:
Carena M. Phillips, Director
YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh-Homewood Branch
7140 Bennett Street
Pittsburgh , PA 15208
412-241-2811 ext. 35
412-342-0122 fax
E-Mail: workforce@ymcaofpittsburgh.org

back to top