Suffolk County Executive Bellone Announces Fresh Start Initiative Assists Over 100 Formerly Incarcerated Individuals Find Employment

The program has resulted in 105 incarcerated individuals finding gainful employment after their release.

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Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

Photo by: Suffolk County

Suffolk County, NY - January 2, 2019 - Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today announced the successful completion of the Suffolk Fresh Start program in local jails to help incarcerated and soon to be released individuals prepare for post-release employment. The two-year program was administered by the Suffolk County Department of Labor and resulted in 105 incarcerated individuals finding gainful employment after their release.
“Suffolk has created a successful criminal justice model to reduce recidivism and protect taxpayers,” said Suffolk County Executive Bellone. “This program is giving people a second chance to become productive members of society, strengthening families and saving Suffolk taxpayers millions.”
Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. said: “Programs like Fresh Start give county inmates opportunity and hope following incarceration. Having gainful employment is one of the factors that can reduce recidivism, and we are fortunate to have Department of Labor staff working with us to improve outcomes for those transitioning from jail to our communities.”
Frank Nardelli, Commissioner of Suffolk County Department of Labor, Licensing and Consumer Affairs, said: “Securing long term sustainable employment is difficult for an individual with a prior conviction. Fresh Start proves that with a cooperative community approach, recently released offenders can successfully reenter the workforce and remain gainfully employed.”
Working with the Suffolk County Workforce Development Board, the Suffolk County Department of Labor, Licensing and Consumer Affairs successfully applied for and received $489,901 from the U.S. Department of Labor Linking to Employment Activities Pre-Release program, which is designed to reduce recidivism through gainful, long-term employment. Over the past two years, the Suffolk County Department of Labor has administered Suffolk’s Fresh Start program in partnership with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office and Eastern Suffolk BOCES to provide employability skills and vocational training to incarcerated individuals.
In total, 355 individuals were screened by DOL One-Stop Employment Center staff and enrolled in the Fresh Start program where they received resources and training to address any possible barriers to employment. Suffolk County DOL staff worked with participants pre-release to ensure they were registered as customers with the One Stop Employment Center.  Suffolk DOL also assigned jail-based staff to conduct pre-release comprehensive assessments, vocational counseling, job search and employability skills training and introduced participants to One-Stop Employment Center case managers.
Additionally, DOL staff assisted individuals post-release by providing job placement guidance in Hauppauge, Riverhead, and Patchogue, and at Wyandanch, Huntington, Brentwood and Bellport community resource offices under the county’s Community Based Initiative. To increase their marketable skills prior to release, 25 participants also received Occupational Safety and Health Administration training in Yaphank and Riverhead, an important job training component of the joint partnership between the Labor Department and the Sheriff’s Office. 
All Employment Center partners, including the county departments of Social Services, Probation, and Police, and training providers, leveraged their experience and inventory of services to ensure Fresh Start success. 
The Suffolk County Correctional System possesses the fourth largest local jail in New York State, consisting of facilities in Riverhead and Yaphank operated by the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, housing a daily average of 1,500 sentenced individuals.  All partner staff experienced in dealing those with barriers to employment provided pre and post-release work-related services to this population. 
For more information, please visit the Suffolk County Department of Labor’s Employment Center website.