Integrating Best and Promising Practice to Reduce Recidivism and Increase Job Readiness

Stephanie Akhter, Chytania Brown, Ray Woodruff & Will Heaton

Employment is an important aspect of successful reentry; however, simply placing someone in a job will not prevent reoffending. Studies show that the best way to improve the employment outcomes of people returning home from incarceration is to address the underlying issues that led to offending and ensure that they are ready for work. In this session, participants will learn how to integrate the best practices from the correctional field (such as targeting underlying criminogenic risk and associated needs) into employment programs that utilize best practices incorporate best practices from the workforce development field. Opportunities to leverage the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funding to support reentry and employment programs will also be explored.

Stephanie Akhter

Stephanie Akhter serves as Program Director at the Council of State Governments Justice Center, overseeing a portfolio of work focused on increasing opportunities and reducing barriers for people with criminal records to connect to work. Prior to joining the Justice Center, Stephanie was the director of workforce programs at a community-based organization, and she has worked in criminal justice programs at the Office of the Appellate Defender and the Center for Court Innovation. She is a LMSW in NY and received her MS in social work from Columbia University and a BS in business administration from Ramapo College of NJ.

Chytania Brown

Chytania Brown is the Administrator of the Division of Employment and Training at the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. She oversees over 14 state and federal workforce programs throughout the state and is responsible for the implementation of federal programs. Chytania began her career in workforce as a parole agent, then transitioned into workforce development. Chytania is working on her doctorate of philosophy in Organizational Psychology at Walden University and has a Master of Science in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Will Heaton

Will Heaton serves as Director of Policy and Public Affairs at the Center for Employment Opportunities, a national nonprofit providing employment services to men and women with criminal convictions. Prior to joining CEO, Will served as VP and Chief of Staff at the Council on Foundations, where he provided guidance to philanthropic leaders on a range of issues. Will began his career in the US House of Representatives working in the Office of the Speaker and then as Chief of Staff for an Ohio Congressman. He holds a BA in History and Government from The College of William and Mary.

Ray Woodruff

Ray Woodruff manages several local and statewide initiatives aimed at reducing recidivism and improving the employment outcomes of individuals who are returning to the community from incarceration. He has worked with various special populations, and provides technical assistance and training to counties, workforce agencies, and corrections professionals on offender management and program implementation. Previously, Ray spent 12 years providing program interventions and services to incarcerated adults and juveniles in facilities in Wisconsin and Ohio. He received his MS in criminal justice and forensic psychology from Tiffin University, and his BA in psychology from the University of Cincinnati.

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