Removing Barriers to Employment for Former Inmates
Jim McGreevey, Chairman of the New Jersey Reentry Corporation explains the role the organization plays in removing all barriers to employment for citizens returning from incarceration. McGreevey is joined by Edwin Ortiz, Former Client of the New Jersey Reentry Corporation who shares how the organization has helped him build a new life for himself.
"State of Affairs is pleased to welcome former Governor Jim McGreevey, who is the Chairman of the New Jersey Reentry Corporation, and Edwin Ortiz, former client of the New Jersey Reentry Corporation. Good to see you gentlemen. Thank you for having us. Jim, we've talked many times about the issues of those who have been incarcerated or are coming back into society. Yep. We'll tell your story in a second. Describe the organization, and then we'll bring this guy in. Sure. The New Jersey Reentry Corporation is dedicated to helping returning persons, core involved persons, rebuild their lives, they're coming back after what they call "football time" in prison, in jail. I mean literally, 10, 15, 20 years. And Stephen, I think what we do, and God willing we do well, is we link people to addiction treatment, which is so critically important. 70% of the people behind bars are active in their addiction. In addition, we link them to healthcare, through a Federally Qualified Health Center, or a hospital, then employment and training. I mean we work with One-Stop, we work with corporations, I'd like to shout out to Kevin Cummings of Investors Bank. We work closely with the business community, which is important. And then legal services. So many of these guys have outstanding warrants. They come home after 10, 15, 20 years and there's a whole slew of warrants. Hmm. And so we try to clean up those warrants so they can go on. And lastly, there's also mentoring, and spiritual care, so that they understand, most importantly, they can't think and act with the same way they did that brought them to prison in the first place. So it's transformative. Edwin, in 1986, your life changed? Yes it did. How so? In 1986, I was suffering from addiction. In order to support my addiction, I was committing crimes, particularly armed robberies. Unfortunately someone lost their life. As a result I went to prison. And I spent the last 30 years in prison. 30 years in prison? Yes. I was released September 22nd of 2016. You spent 30 years in prison? You actually told us before that, I asked when did you guys connect and start working together? Yeah. You thought it was at a certain time. When did you know Jim McGreevey? Well I met Jim the second day he was elected. [laughter] He didn't know that? No he did not. No I didn't know that. [laughter] I never told him. Until just now! I was in the chapel at Rahway State Prison. And Jim came into the chapel the next day he was... he... As Governor? As Governor. He was..."