First Lady Wolf Highlights Governor’s Proposed $1 Million Investment in Women’s Reentry

First Lady Frances WolfFirst Lady Frances Wolf (Credit: Commonwealth Media Services)

YORK, PA — First Lady Frances Wolf joined the York County Economic Alliance, its Bloom Empowerment Center, the York County Reentry Coalition, business and non-profit leaders, criminal justice advocates, and other partners at the Manufacturers’ Association for the York County Reentry Employer Roundtable. In the conversation, Mrs. Wolf highlighted the importance of second chance hiring practices and reiterated the Wolf Administration’s commitment to supporting returning citizens.

“Many reentrants struggle to find steady jobs that pay a living wage, and this is particularly crucial for women given that a majority of them are mothers,” said First Lady Wolf. “We must work together to help these women reestablish this critical piece of their lives during reentry. I applaud the employers in attendance today for their dedication to this important work and for recognizing the value of our reentrant community.”

In his 2022 budget, Governor Wolf is proposing a $1 million investment for reentry services at the local level for women to give them the best opportunity to start fresh and reduce recidivism.

According to the PA Department of Corrections, there are approximately 2,000 women in Pennsylvania’s State Correctional Institutions (SCIs), with 67% of the women serving sentences of 5 years or less. Securing employment with sustainable wages is especially crucial for women given that 70% of women in PA SCIs are mothers and they are often the heads of their households.

A 2018 Prison Policy Institute report found that more than 27% of formerly incarcerated people are unemployed. When gender, race, and class are considered, employment difficulty becomes even more dire: formerly incarcerated black and Hispanic women face a nearly 40% unemployment rate, while 23% of formerly incarcerated white women are unemployed.

Throughout his administration, Governor Tom Wolf has made it a priority to address hiring challenges for Pennsylvanians with criminal histories. He has:

  • created a fair-chance hiring policy for state agencies that removes the criminal conviction question, otherwise known as “banning the box,” from non-civil service employment applications for agencies under the governor’s jurisdiction;
  • updated professional licensing criteria to be more considerate of Pennsylvanians with criminal backgrounds; and
  • enacted the nation’s first Clean Slate law, which automatically seals certain low-level criminal records and helps reduce stigma against Pennsylvanians who have interacted with the criminal justice system.

“An objective of the York County Economic Action Plan is to provide the opportunity of second chance hiring to improve economic mobility of individuals and families impacted by prior records,” said Kevin Schreiber, President and CEO of York County Economic Alliance. “Offering resources such as a pipeline for skills training, provides employers with a greater applicant pool, and aids in lowering recidivism rates.”

In early 2022, First Lady Wolf led a virtual reentry roundtable series, Women in Reentry, which highlighted challenges for women reentering their communities, including employment.

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