“Bridgeport is a second chance city – no one knows that better than I do,” said Mayor Ganim, who is also a successful returned citizen post-incarceration. “What my own story represents is that even if you have made mistakes in your past, it does not have to tar you forever. There are things government can do to connect employers with good, hard working individuals who may have done time but are eager for a second chance and ready to contribute to economic development here in Bridgeport. I am so proud of what this program has accomplished thus far, and I am excited to see where this leads. Bridgeport can be a national model for how to re-integrate the formerly incarcerated back into the workforce. This is a true partnership between the individual who steps forward and wants to put their life back on track, organizations that believe in second chances, and Bridgeport area businesses who are willing to take a chance on those vetted through the MIRA program.”
The Connecticut Department of Corrections is also providing key information to the MIRA effort, entering an agreement with the city to provide a list of incarcerated citizens returning to Bridgeport and when they are scheduled to be released. This allows MIRA to reach out to Bridgeport returning citizens and engage them pre-release.
MIRA program manager Louis Reed, himself a one-time returning citizen, said, “There are thousands of Bridgeport residents who are formerly incarcerated individuals that are ready and willing to get back into the workforce and move forward with their careers, become productive and taxpaying members of our community. The Mayor’s Initiative on Re-Entry Affairs firmly places the city forward as just as much of a stakeholder - if not leading the way - as our community partners, ensuring that our residents who are part of more than 70,000,000 people across the country living with convictions have a fair chance to recalibrate their lives.”
Anyone interested in finding out more information about the MIRA program should contact Louis Reed at 475-225-4499 or Louis.firstname.lastname@example.org
Key Accomplishments of MIRA Program since August 2016:
Ø MIRA has outreached and engaged with 155 returning citizens from the City of Bridgeport.
MIRA has successfully enrolled 120 returning citizens from the City of Bridgeport. The projected number for outreach and engagement was 50.
Ø MIRA has made employment referrals and job placement for 68 of serviced individuals. 55 job placements. The placements include major retail, construction, landscaping, home health aid companies and customer service contractors, and the list is growing. The targeted placement number for this period of time was 30.
Ø MIRA has engaged with and connected with 82 community partners, including businesses, service providers, etc.
Ø MIRA has enrolled approximately 40% of serviced individuals with Connecticut Department of Social Services programs include SNAP Benefits (food stamps) and HUSKY medical coverage.
Ø MIRA has initiated a fee-waiver for birth certificates for returning citizens from Bridgeport released from custody within 30 days and/or with a supervised release referral. Birth certificates are often required for the DMV non-driver ID.
Ø MIRA has assisted in the completion of nine State of Connecticut criminal pardons and state certificates of employability applications from the Connecticut State Board of Pardons and Parole.
Ø MIRA has successfully negotiated scholarships for five individuals to receive credentials for the State of CT Recovery Support Specialist Certification through Advocacy Unlimited. This individual certification for returning citizens allows them to be a recovery support specialist who helps others in recovery for substance abuse. With the certification, these individuals can be employed by the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services or one of its contracted non-profit service providers.
Ø MIRA has successfully referred six individuals for specialized license endorsements through DMV. This opens the door to Commercial Driver’s Licenses and other licenses that can be routes to well-compensated employment as a driver.
Ø MIRA has successfully established referral processes with the Connecticut State Department of Corrections, receiving bi-weekly reports of ex-offenders returning to Bridgeport every two weeks. MIRA has developed a comprehensive file on all returning citizens coming back to Bridgeport.
Ø MIRA has successfully presented to the United States Department of Justice, District Court(s) and other organizations on current practices.
Ø MIRA has established a new partnership with Bridgeport based Career Resources, Inc. to pre-screen and assess Women returning citizens to Bridgeport incarcerated in York Correctional Institute in Niantic and refer them to MIRA for services.
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