Everyone remembers President Obama’s Father’s Day speech from last year.  I did a little reporting towards the end of September on what, policywise, Obama had in mind when he said he wanted to deal with fatherlessness.  Among the things I discovered was that he wants to invest more in reentry programs, which help the formerly incarcerated transition back into society. This is particularly important for parents, for whom the stakes for finding a job are much higher. They can’t just worry about themselves, they have parental and financial obligations they have to meet. 

From the budget outline released yesterday, it looks like the Obama administration is moving forward on this aspect of the fatherood agenda:

Expands Prisoner Reentry Programs. The Budget includes $109 million for prisoner reentry programs, including an additional $75 million for the Office of Justice Programs to expand grant programs authorized by the Second Chance Act that provide counseling, job training, drug treatment, and other transitional assistance to former prisoners.

I’ve spent alot of time reporting on these programs, and many of them work very well. They provide an atmosphere of positive peer pressure and support that contrasts with the street, and they help formerly incarcerated men develop a more productive masculine identity than the one they had before or during their bid. The problem is really that there hasn’t been enough evaluation of what works and what doesn’t, and hopefully the administration will be very careful about where it ends up sending this money.

In other, but unrelated good news, the budget also devotes $145 million dollars to the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department to “strengthen civil rights enforcement against racial, ethnic, sexual preference, religious and gender discrimination.”

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