To the Editor:
We are deeply disturbed about recent reports that suggest that the Chicago Transit Authority will end its ex-offender rail car employment program.
African Americans are
disproportionately represented in Illinois’ prison population. More
often than not, these ex-offenders return to their home communities
after serving their sentences in prison. They return to communities
that have higher than average rates of unemployment and underemployment
caused by a chronic shortage of living wage jobs. Moreover, even
non-violent ex-offenders face statutory bars to employment and
government benefits that serve as perverse incentives for criminal behavior.
There is, therefore, a straight line between gainful employment and reducing recidivism. These jobs are critical to reducing violence, recidivism, and unemployment rates for hard to employ people.
It is our understanding that CTA’s management and board support continuing the ex-offender rail car employment program and that the leadership of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308 has called for the program’s elimination.
We believe that ATU Local 308’s opposition to this program is misguided and wrong, particularly because ATU Local 241 has supported a similar program for bus maintenance.
This is matter of justice and equity. We support this program and strongly encourage ATU Local 308 to end its opposition to it.
- Chicago Aldermanic Black Caucus
- Alderman Howard B. Brookins (21), Chair