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Bridgeport’s formerly incarcerated residents benefit from reentry programs

Earl L.R. Bloodworth, director of Bridgeport's Mayor's Initiative for Re-entry Affairs at a city hall meeting on Tuesday April 18, 2023
Ebong Udoma
Earl L.R. Bloodworth, director of Bridgeport Mayor's Initiative for Reentry Affairs at a city hall meeting on Tuesday April 18, 2023

Bridgeport, Connecticut, officials say more than 2,000 formerly incarcerated residents have benefitted from the city’s prisoner reentry programs.

Representatives gave a progress report on the programs at a city hall meeting on Tuesday.

Bridgeport has spent about $4 million of its $110 million American Rescue Plan Act money on the reentry programs.

It has been spurred by Mayor Joseph Ganim’s initiative for reentry, launched after he returned to office in 2016 following several years in federal prison, said Thomas Gaudett, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff and the coordinator for the city’s ARPA spending.

“Building off that work we thought it was important to give all the nonprofits in the city of Bridgeport that are operating in this space some funding to run the programs and expand the programs to help formerly incarcerated individuals that are returning to the city every year,” Gaudett said.

“We helped file about 1,500 tax returns,” said Michael Quan, the executive director of the Burroughs Center, which provides one of the programs — a free tax preparation service.

“By getting to know these people very well we get to make a plan with them," Quan said. "To say okay we are done with this year. But let’s plan for next year. So that you don't get stuck owing money.”

The programs provided by a number of agencies include housing, bus tokens, employment training and even help filing tax returns.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.