Local Business Champion Goes To Prison

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John Blanchard, Executive Director of NASA Education, made a presentation to soon to be released incarcerated veterans at the Dixon Correctional Facility on Wednesday, March 12, 2008.

. Mr. Blanchard went on to say,

John Blanchard, executive director of NASA Education Corporation and current 2008 McHenry County Economic Development Corporation's (MCEDC) Special Recognition Business Champion made a presentation at the Dixon Correction Facility in Dixon, IL.

The U.S. Department of Labor/Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) in conjunction with the McHenry County Local Veteran Employment Representative (LVER) invited Mr. Blanchard to come and make a presentation to individuals that are soon to be released from the Dixon Correction Facility in Dixon, Illinois, on Wednesday, March 12, 2008. His presentation covered workforce reintegration, opportunities and avenues that are available to them, through NASA Ed Corporation throughout various parts of Illinois. The audience consisted of soon to be paroled inmates who at one time served in our armed services, representatives from both McHenry and Whiteside County and the Illinois Department of Veteran's Affairs.

The purpose of the presentation which will be an ongoing, periodic event is to provide guidance and assistance in solidifying the reduction in recidivism through vocational and reintegration workshops and education; preparing them for what lies ahead once they are paroled.

There are many factors that play into recidivism. The main factors still rely on community involvement and social acceptance; department of corrections and the parole department; and a strong, solid family environment.

Mr. Blanchard supports Roger E. Walker, Jr., Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections, Jesse Montgomery, Acting Chief of Parole, and Governor Blagojevich's plan for the reform of the Illinois prison system.

The Federal Government, U.S. Department of Labor and the IRS, along with the State of Illinois provide tax incentives for the hiring of previously incarcerated veterans and veterans at large. In a statement made by Mr. Blanchard regarding the hiring of formerly incarcerated veterans, he states "These previously incarcerated veterans could very well become the fabric of the backbone to the industrial, manufacturing and service oriented industries in every community across the country. They are English speaking, U.S. citizens and they know how to work." The incentives come in various forms as listed below:

  • The Work Opportunity Tax Credit is a tax credit for up to $2,400 for each new hire: 40% of qualified first-year wages for those employed 400 or more hours; 25% for those employed at least 120 hours. Qualified wages are capped at $6,000. There are nine target groups that include qualified veterans and qualified ex-felons. Visit the Department of Labor's website for additional information. http://www.doleta.gov/business/incentives/opptax/
  • Federal Fidelity Bonding guarantees the honesty for "at-risk", hard-to-place job seekers. Employers receive the bonds free-of-charge and ranges from $5,000 to $25,000 as an incentive to hire hard-to-place job applicants as wage earners. The FBP bond insurance was designed to reimburse the employer for any loss due to employee theft of money or property with no deductible amount to become the employer's liability (i.e., 100% bond insurance coverage). The USDOL experiment has proved to be a great success, with over 42,000 job placements made for at-risk job seekers who were automatically made bondable. Since approximately 460 proved to be dishonest workers, bonding services as a job placement tool can be considered to have a 99% success rate. For more information regarding the Fidelity Bonding program, visit http://www.bonds4jobs.com.

U.S. Department of Labor/VETS program, Illinois Department of Parole, NASA Education Corporation, John Blanchard and local community involvement can ensure that a majority of previously incarcerated veterans are returning to the community to be productive, self-sufficient, and trustworthy individuals that may very well become your neighbor. As stated by Mr. Blanchard, :If the truth be known, a very large percentage of Illinois residents that have gone to prison could attribute their problems to their surroundings, social economic environment and the family structure or lack there of. As a society, we can't legislate any of these factors, however as communities takes their streets back and citizens regain responsibility for their own safe neighborhoods, simple street crime would have to find a new home or just go away". Mr. Blanchard went on to say, "I'm not claiming that these individuals aren't responsible for their own actions, nor should they be given special treatment because of where they grew up, but rather if individuals want to take advantage of a safe community and town, those same individuals need to get more involved in reclaiming those safe communities."

NASA Education, a Crystal Lake company has two major programs Project Fresh Start, a comprehensive workforce and community reintegration program for U.S. veterans who are newly discharged, displaced, disabled, homeless or otherwise in transition, and the semiannual, two-day Stand Down for Veterans, which provided 110 veterans in need with services in October, 2007. The next Stand Down will be on March 31 and April 1 at YMCA Camp Algonquin, 1889 Cary Road, Algonquin.

For more information about Project Fresh Start or the Stand Down for Veterans, please contact Amy Johnson at 866-338-4968 (866-EDU-4YOU) or amy_johnson @ nasaeducation.org.


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