Recommendations for Strengthening the Reentry Employment Opportunities Program
By Melissa Young, Clarence Okoh, and Jason Whyte
Now more than ever, Congress has a national imperative to advance comprehensive policy reforms that seek to remedy the harms caused by the criminal legal system, heal communities, and restore rights and access to opportunity. The federal Reentry Employment Opportunities (REO) Program has the potential to be a critical programmatic element of a comprehensive effort.
In this brief, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and the National Reentry Workforce Collaborative (NRWC) offer a set of recommendations to strengthen and modernize the REO program to ensure that a greater number of people impacted by the criminal legal system have access to quality jobs through effective, equitable, and culturally responsive practices.
Our recommendations are grounded in the perspectives of current REO programs, partners, and intermediaries across the country. Additionally, our recommendations build from two recent proposals to codify the REO program from Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) through the Reentry Employment Opportunities Act of 2020 (Senate Bill 4387) and the House-passed Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2022 (House Bill 7309).