New California program to give cash to recently released inmates

People getting out of prison will be able to take home $2,400 as part of the new program.

The state of California has announced a first-in-the-nation re-entry program aimed at helping hundreds of Californians who are released from prison.

Participants in the program will receive direct cash payments of $2,400, along with counseling, job search assistance, and other support.


The big picture: The money will be distributed in a series of payments after reaching specific milestones, such as finding places to live and work.

  • According to the Center for Employment Opportunities – which runs the program – the goal is to provide essential needs like transportation and food during the critical early days after release, to reduce the risk of re-offending.
  • The program is being funded by a $6.9 million grant from the governor’s Workforce Development Board, with $2 million of that going directly to ex-inmates as cash payments.
  • Advocates recognize the challenges that people face when returning from incarceration, such as finding housing and employment, and hope this program will help address those issues.
  • The Center for Employment Opportunities estimates that around 60 percent of formerly incarcerated individuals remain unemployed the first year out of prison. 

What they’re saying: Asm. Tom Lackey (R–Palmdale) serves on the Assembly Public Safety Committee and spoke out against the program, worrying that there won’t be a way to track progress. 

  • “If we are going to issue stipends without parameters for accountability I worry about the return on our investment as it relates to outcomes and community safety,” Lackey said in a statement. 
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