PLAINFIELD, NJ - Union County is providing a valuable successful model proving to improve and reform national policies on incarceration. The local Reconnections prisoner re-entry program in Plainfield and Elizabeth, funded in part by the Freeholder Board, has helped hundreds of formerly incarcerated individuals adjust back to life in the community.
The Reconnections program provides guidance and resources to help clients navigate housing, assistance with job placement, education, health care, mental health treatments, mentoring and other social services. Resources to provide assistance to individuals who are on parole and who were recently incarcerated are available in Plainfield and surrounding towns.
The program is administered by the Urban League of Union County with support from the Freeholder Board and the United Way of Greater Union County.
According to Freeholder Chairman Sergio Granados, “It is often said that individuals who have paid their debt to society deserve a second chance, but these are empty words unless we also provide guidance and access to opportunities for them to establish a solid footing as engaged, productive citizens. Reconnections is a thriving, effective program that offers those who have been incarcerated the resources to regain control of their lives and avoid a cycle of recidivism. The Freeholder Board is proud to continue its support.”
Developed through a partnership between Urban League of Union County, United Way of Greater Union County and the Union County Department of Human Services, Reconnections provides services in the areas of employment, education, social services, legal, mentoring and healthcare, drug and mental health treatment.
Clients are referred to the Reconnections program by County or State agencies, or by community organizations and are then guided by a trained case manager to develop a personalized strategy to achieve specific goals, such as education and job training. They are connected with resources to help these goals come to fruition and can attend various workshops on life skills.
Union County’s American Job Centers, located in Plainfield and Elizabeth, are key to the success of the Reconnections program and are available to all County residents for assistance in connecting with employment and job training opportunities. In Plainfield, the program is available at the One Stop Career Center, located at 200 West Second Street, on the second floor. Walk-ins are welcome on Mondays and Tuesdays from 10 am to 12 noon. Participants must be 18 years or older, and be a Union County resident.
The Freeholder Board began providing funding for the Reconnections program in 2015. Since then, the program has assisted more than 300 individuals. In that three year period, only 2 percent have returned to prison.
According to a recent report by New Jersey correctional agencies, success , re-incarceration rates can be exponentially higher in the absence of a comprehensive re-entry program. Approximately 31.3 percent of inmates released from New Jersey facilities were re-incarcerated within three years.
In addition to the Freeholder Board, United Way and Urban League, other agencies affiliated with the Reconnection program include the New Jersey State Parole Board, Union County Vicinage of Probation, Federal Probation, New Jersey Department of Corrections, Neighborhood Health Services and Legal Services of Central Jersey, Union County Re-entry Task Force, and community and faith-based organizations.
Reconnections supports the goals of Chairman Granados’s Moving Union County Forward initiatives, including the expansion of prisoner re-entry programs as well as partnering with the organization Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in NJ and partnering with school districts and local law enforcement agencies on public safety programs.
For more information about Reconnections or to find out more about employment services in Union County contact the Elizabeth Center at 908-558-8000 (ext. 3272) or the Plainfield Center at 908-757-9090 (ext. 7311).