President Obama is set to announce a landmark effort to help ex-inmates reintegrate into society.
The effort, which will be announced by Obama at an appearance in Newark, New Jersey, will include up to $8 million in federal education grants for former inmates over the course of three years, reports The Huffington Post.
The president is also reportedly directing the Office of Personnel Management to, where possible, modify rules so that criminal backgrounds happen later in the hiring process. Obama is also encouraging Congress to pass a law that would "ban the box" for criminal histories on job applications by federal agencies and contractors.
“While most agencies already have taken this step, this action will better ensure that applicants from all segments of society, including those with prior criminal histories, receive a fair opportunity to compete for federal employment,” the White House said in a statement.
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The plan will also include new guidelines regarding the use arrest records in determining one's eligibility for public and federally-assisted housing. In addition, Obama intends to create a national clearinghouse which would help inmates expunge or seal their records where possible, The New York Times reports.
The announcement came on the heels of Obama becoming the first sitting president to visit a prison. He has been a longtime advocate of criminal justice reform, pledging to make it a top priority in his second term.
“Advancing policies and programs that enable these men and women to put their lives back on track and earn their second chance promotes not only justice and fairness, but also public safety,” the White House said of the more than 600,000 people released from state and federal prisons every year.