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President's N.J. visit on justice reform features Integrity House stop

November 2, 2015
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Integrity House, a therapeutic community (TC)-based treatment organization with facilities in Newark and Secaucus, N.J., on Nov. 2 served as a backdrop for Obama administration announcements to promote community reintegration for inmates exiting incarceration, including those with substance use issues. President Obama visited the Newark site to discuss criminal justice reform, spending part of his visit meeting with Integrity House clients who are working to reclaim their lives.

Integrity House, established in the late 1960s and now offering a full continuum of care, has worked closely with organizations in the Newark and Jersey City areas to identify employment and housing opportunities for ex-offenders. Among the new initiatives announced by the president is a U.S. Department of Education grant program that will award nine communities up to $8 million to support integrated educational and related services to individuals with an incarceration history.

“Research shows over and over again that the only way to have safer communities and to effectively curb drug crime is to provide addicts with the treatment and support they need to quit and stay clean,” Integrity House CEO Robert J. Budsock said in a news release issued in advance of the president's visit.

Criminal justice reform has served as a central issue in Washington in recent months, with the president urging Congress to pass legislation such as the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, which would free up resources for re-entry services in part by reducing sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.

Other initiatives announced at the start of the week by the president include:

  • Commitments by several communities around the country, including Newark, to the administration's TechHire initiative to expand access to technology jobs through efforts such as fast-track training. Several large New Jersey employers are involved in the Newark effort, which is targeting the formerly incarcerated.

  • The launch of an $8.7 million supportive housing demonstration grant through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Bureau of Justice Assistance to address homelessness in the justice-involved population.

  • Another HUD and Department of Justice initiative that will assist public housing residents under age 25 in expunging or sealing their criminal records.

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