Billed as a novel solution to 'post-conviction poverty,' a program is giving cash to people released from prison. The Returning Citizen Stimulus offers cash transfers averaging $2,750 over a period of three months, contingent on achieving specific goals. It is the brainchild of the Center for Employment Opportunities, a New York-based nonprofit that provides paid transitional employment, job counseling, and related services for people just released from prison. It began distributing cash to some 10,500 former inmates through partner organizations in 28 cities and 6 states in April 2020. While various reforms have begun to open new possibilities for 'second chance' employees, giving cash to people released from prison during a pandemic was a new frontier. One recipient described it as "a life-changing gift." An ongoing analysis of the $24.5 million program, funded by a collaborative of philanthropists, suggests that so far, the cash payments have had a positive effect on employment: 42% of recipients were working five months in.

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