Overcoming the Stigma of a Criminal Past
Steve Adubato goes on-location to the New Jersey Reentry Conference to speak with Jim McGreevey, Chairman, New Jersey Reentry Corporation, about overcoming the stigma of a criminal past and helping ex-offenders with job training, addiction treatment and housing.
"This is Steve Adubato. We're in Jersey City, in fact, at Saint Peter's University. This is the Annual Reentry Conference - The Road to Salvation: From Addiction to Employment. We're here with Governor Jim McGreevey, who is the chair of the New Jersey Reentry Corporation. Jim, we've talked about these issues many many times, usually in the studio. This conference. What's it about? And why is it so important? Steve, it's focusing on the reality of addiction. About 75% of our clients are addicted or active in their addiction. And obviously, because of heroin and the fentanyl crisis, it has taken on a new emergent concern. I mean, we have 3,200 young people, largely young men died last year in the state of New Jersey. New Jersey was one of five in the fast... in the nation, five states in the nation that had the most substantial increase in overdose deaths. So we're looking at best practices in terms of medication assisted treatment, whether it's Suboxone or Vivitrol or what we could do to... particularly as people come out of treatment, as they come out of jail, as they come out of prison, how to sustain them for the long-term, for one year, two years, and three years and then ultimately it's about employment, and the wraparound services. So today, we're honored to have, not only a number of legislators, but Father Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest who runs Homeboy Industries which is... Out in Los Angeles, right? Los Angeles. Exactly. He started out in the barrio and the Dorothy Mission, and now is the largest program of its kind in the country, talking about his experiences. But also state legislators talking about expungement, talking about employment opportunities. But before we get people into employment, they have to be stabilized. They have to make sure that whether it's their depression, their anxiety, their addiction, their housing, that they're all addressed. So old-school would be, get them a job, and God bless, and good luck. Now, we understand the importance of stabilizing them, both mentally physically and also in terms of their... in terms of their addiction. Jim, let me ask you this. It's called the New Jersey Reentry Corporation. But in many ways, this is a societal issue across the nation. Actually, as you said, Father Boyle is coming in from Los Angeles. National, societal. What's going on in New Jersey? Is it a model? The model? Well I think... you know, I'm proud of the fact that we've got great support from the United States Department of Justice, and also, in terms of the state of New Jersey, that a lot of hard work on a bipartisan basis, Governor Christie..."