Project LIFT Grant Application Approved

At its June 6, 2012 meeting, the Washtenaw County board of commissioners gave final approval to apply for a $1,348,853 federal grant from the U.S. Dept. of Labor to fund Project LIFT, a jobs training and service program for juvenile ex-offenders run by the county sheriff’s office. The program aims to serve 100 youth. [.pdf of program description] The grant application had received initial approval at the board’s May 16, 2012 meeting.

A staff memo notes that while Washtenaw County “has the best employment rates compared to its neighbors, it also has the highest rate of criminal recidivism in the state, with 80% of released prisoners being re-imprisoned 2-3 years later. In addition, many at-risk youth reside in communities that serve as a revolving door for offenders returning to society from our jails and prisons. With community-based reintegration in Washtenaw County still in its infancy, there is a need to engage youth before they are introduced to the criminal justice system as adults, within their own communities, that will deter them from criminal behavior.”

According to the staff report, the sheriff’s community action team estimates there are 12-13 gangs active in Washtenaw County, with 9-10 gangs active in one neighborhood alone. The largest gang has an estimated 25 members.

This brief was filed from the boardroom of the county administration building, 220 N. Main in Ann Arbor. A more detailed report will follow: [link]