Secretary DeVos Expands Second Chance Pell Experiment, More than Doubling Opportunities for Incarcer

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced today the U.S. Department of Education is inviting a new cohort of 67 schools to participate in its Second Chance Pell experiment, creating more education opportunities for incarcerated students. This action expands on the Trump Administration's commitment to offer incarcerated individuals a second chance upon their re-entry to society, helping to reduce rates of recidivism. "I've had the pleasure of visiting several Second Chance Pell institutions and have seen firsthand the transformative impact this experiment has on the lives of individuals who are incarcerated," said Secretary DeVos. "By expanding this experiment, we are providing a mean

Commutation Applications Put on Indefinite Hold, As Reformers Press for Action Amid Pandemic

Elizabeth Hardison - April 28, 2020 Dozens of people hoping to have their lengthy sentences cut short will have to wait indefinitely to plead their cases before Pennsylvania’s Board of Pardons, whose members have decided not to conduct interviews or cast votes remotely until the COVID-19 pandemic abates. Lt. Gov John Fetterman, the board’s chairman, said Tuesday that the public hearings the panel had scheduled for June will be delayed until the state Capitol reopens — a day that could be weeks or months away. Fetterman told the Capital-Star last week that he did not want to vote on commutations in June unless the five-member board could muster the unanimous votes necessary to send deserving

VA, SSI Recipients with Eligible Children Need to Act by May 5 to Quickly Add Money to Their Automat

The Internal Revenue Service today issued a special alert for Supplemental Security Income and Department of Veterans Affairs beneficiaries to act by May 5 if they didn’t file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 and have dependents so they can quickly receive the full amount of their Economic Impact Payment. Their $1,200 payments will be issued soon and, in order to add the $500 per eligible child amount to these payments, the IRS needs the dependent information before the payments are issued. Otherwise, their payment at this time will be $1,200 and, by law, the additional $500 per eligible child amount will be paid in association with a return filing for tax year 2020. “We want to ‘Plus $500’ thes

Few People in Federal Detention Have Been Released Under COVID-19 Emergency Policies

After the coronavirus erupted behind bars in late March, U.S. Attorney General William Barr ordered officials running federal prisons to “immediately maximize” the release of prisoners to home confinement to prevent the spread of the virus. In a much-publicized letter, Barr urged them to focus on the most medically vulnerable in facilities with COVID-19 deaths. But in the three weeks after Barr’s urgent April 3 memo, the Federal Bureau of Prison’s results are modest: the number of people allowed to serve the rest of their sentence in home confinement went up by only 1,027 under the new guidance set out by the attorney general—about half of 1 percent of the more than 174,000 people in the bur

Some People with Criminal Records Excluded from Small Business Relief in Spite of Trump's Crimin

Like millions of other small business owners facing the financial weight of the coronavirus pandemic, Vincent Bragg saw the federal government's Payroll Protection Program as a potential lifeline. But the fifth question on the loan application immediately disqualified Bragg from securing a loan to help pay the salaries of the nine people on the company payroll: "Is the Applicant ... subject to an indictment ... or presently incarcerated, or on probation or parole?" Bragg, who served five years in prison on a drug conspiracy charge, has one year left on probation. "It's kind of discouraging," said Bragg, the CEO of the creative agency, ConCreates. "I've gotten out of prison and I feel like I'

Hundreds in Philly Could Lose Coronavirus Relief Money Because Stimulus Checks Aren’t Safe from Debt

Christian Hetrick - April 27, 2020 Hundreds of Philadelphians may be locked out of their bank accounts and could lose their federal coronavirus stimulus checks to creditors and debt collectors, cutting them off from funds they may need to pay rent and buy groceries during the pandemic. In the three months before the coronavirus crisis closed courthouses, the city’s Municipal Court judges issued more than 400 so-called garnishment orders, which allow people and businesses to collect their winnings after succeeding in civil cases, according to an estimate from Community Legal Services (CLS), a nonprofit law firm that represents low-income residents. The bulk of the garnishment orders come from

National Survey Shows Reentry Services Halting Across U.S.

As community-based criminal justice practitioners navigate the new world of COVID-19, a majority of them are already halting the essential services they provide to help people returning from prison or jail reenter successfully. A survey of community-based service providers conducted by The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center this month showed that just 30 percent of 126 providers report no changes in services since the rise of the pandemic. Meanwhile, significant numbers of programs—including in-reach services in jails and prisons, educational support in the community, and employment services—have been forced to stop amid the outbreak. Those service disruptions are coupled with

Why Philly Unions Want Judges to Release People From Jail

Juliana Feliciano Reyes - April 22, 2020 Three unions that represent thousands of workers at Philadelphia jails have taken the unusual step of calling for judges to reduce the jail population during the coronavirus pandemic. The unions — which in total represent about 2,500 corrections officers, subcontracted healthcare workers, and social workers — say that releasing incarcerated individuals from jail is a “common sense” measure to help protect workers and the broader community from the coronavirus. They join a chorus of voices, including criminal justice reform and public health advocates, as well as District Attorney Larry Krasner and Chief Defender Keir Bradford-Grey, in making the same

Funding Available: Entrepreneurship Education Program for Formerly Incarcerated Persons

In order to facilitate the growth and global competitiveness of America’s growing minority business enterprise (MBE) community, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is seeking to fund innovative projects – to support formerly incarcerated individuals – with entrepreneurship assistance including (but not limited to): (1) educational programs and workshops; (2) entrepreneurial training; and (3) coaching assistance. Eligibility: Applicants may be for-profit entities (including but not limited to sole-proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies, and corporations), non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education, commercial organizations, state and local gover

How Can We Cope With Isolation During Coronavirus? Formerly Incarcerated Women Give Advice

The coronavirus has imposed widespread isolation — an experience that is deeply familiar to incarcerated people, who confront unique challenges in jail and prison. As part of their art and advocacy work with formerly incarcerated women, the People’s Paper Co-op (PPC) recently asked eight people in its program to give advice on how to cope. They share tips for getting through, including how to deal with loneliness, what to do when you lack control over your daily schedule, and the importance of eating well even without regular grocery access. Their stories of resilience and hope show the strength of the human spirit, when tested by extreme circumstances. Being socially isolated has many of us

Ride To Work Seeks Partner Organizations in Need of Transportation Services

Ride To Work is looking for organizations that need transportation services for their grant proposals or existing workforce development programs. If you work at a program working on behalf of returning citizens who would benefit from help getting to jobs that can't be accessed by public transportation, reach out to Tim Styer at or 267-784-9071.

PFCU Shares 2020 Economic Stimulus Payment Information

Note: There are changes occurring daily. Please check for the most up to date information Check the box that applies to you. □ You had no income in 2019 and did not file taxes in 2018 → You must use this application: Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here → Find instructions and tips on the last page for “Non-Filers” □ You filed taxes for 2019 or 2018. It was deposited into a bank account → Do nothing, your money is on its way (or you already received it). □ You filed taxes for 2019 or 2018. It was deposited onto a reloadable or prepaid debit card (like the Turbo Visa Debit card or the Emerald Card) → You will get your payment issued automatically. Your payment MIGHT come on the same ca

For People Released Due to COVID-19, a Different World Awaits

Katelyn Newman - April 15, 2020 On March 30, Dennis McLees swapped his stint in a correctional facility for quarantine in his daughter Ashley Stack's home, hunkering down with her, his son-in-law and his 15-month-old grandson during the coronavirus pandemic, thanks to an early release. "I'm just glad to get out – we were on lockdown my last three weeks," says McLees, 57. McLees was imprisoned several months ago for a nonviolent drug possession charge, but was let out early on parole from the Big Muddy River Correctional Center in Ina, Illinois, due to concerns about the virus entering the facility. A liver cancer survivor who had a transplant in 2017 and now needs a new kidney, McLees is pot

He Died in Prison from the Coronavirus — Three Days Before a Breakthrough in His 30-Year Fight to Cl

Jeremy Roebuck - April 15, 2020 On Saturday, Rudolph Sutton’s son said he got news he had waited 30 years to hear: Philadelphia prosecutors would review his father’s claim that he’d been wrongfully imprisoned for a 1988 murder in South Philadelphia. But the son had news of his own for the defense lawyers on the other end of the line: Sutton, 67, had died three days earlier, the first state prison inmate to succumb to the coronavirus. In an interview days after that call, Sutton’s son, Rudolpho, said life never did move quite quickly enough to work in his father’s favor. It took decades for witnesses supporting his story to come forward. It had taken years for father and son to rebuild their

PLA Running Unemployment Compensation Hotline and Providing Information on PUC and PUA

PLA's Unemployment Compensation Application Service Hotline is available every day this week to help Pennsylvania workers file their initial application for UC benefits. Additionally, PLA has updated their FAQ with new information about PUC and PUA. You can access their FAQ here. The Department's central CARES Act page, which includes links to its FAQs, can be found here. It also has a flowchart that directs workers between the three federal programs.

CBH Publishing Daily Updates Regarding the Operational Changes of Treatment Providers

CBH has begun maintaining a spreadsheet containing information on operational changes at network providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please remember to check here frequently, as this spreadsheet will be updated daily. You can access each day's spreadsheet here. The spreadsheet itself is published daily under the subtitle, "Operational Changes of Treatment Providers." To find phone numbers associated with each organization, you can use CBH's Provider Directory. Please Note: There are 10 tabs to the excel file, be sure to navigate through them all at the base of the spreadsheet.

Philadelphia Reports First Death from Coronavirus In It's Jails

Jeremy Roebuck, Laura McCrystal, Chris Palmer and Dylan Purcell - April 14, 2020 "A 48-year-old woman on Tuesday became the first Philadelphia jail inmate to die of complications from the coronavirus, city officials said. The Department of Prisons did not release the woman’s identity, say which facility she had been housed in, or describe the charges on which she was being held. Sources who were not authorized to publicly discuss the woman’s death identified her as Yvonne Harris, who had been housed at the Riverside Correctional Facility on State Road since September 2018 on charges of robbery, trespassing, and possessing an instrument of a crime. Harris received an 11½-to-23-month jail sent

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