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The Criminal Justice and Employment Initiative (CJEI) provides criminal records and employment law training to job seekers who have been involved in the criminal legal system, assists employers in rethinking their approach to hiring, engages in research to study reentry practices, and influences policy makers and legislators on criminal justice reform.

Listen: Cornell Collaboration Delivers Hope

Cayuga Correctional - Esta Teaching
Listen to Esta Bigler ’70, in a conversation with Cornell colleague Rob Scott, discuss her work with incarcerated men seeking jobs.

At Cayuga Correctional Facility this winter, Esta Biger ’70 shared the criminal records expertise she has been bringing to incarcerated men in New York City for several years.

At the session in Upstate New York, dozens of men preparing to exit the state prison system in the coming months learned how to clean their records of erroneous information. They also learned how to approach the challenges of getting a job after serving time. Mostly, they learned how to exercise their legal rights in order to rejoin the workforce.

Bigler ’70, who leads the ILR Labor and Employment Law Program, expanded existing outreach efforts by teaming up with the Cornell Prison Education Program, led by Rob Scott.

Scott’s staff, already working in four prisons in the Finger Lakes Region, facilitated entre by Bigler into the Cayuga and Five Points prisons this winter.

The impact was immediate. Jesse Johnston, 32, who entered prison eight years ago on a weapons possession charge, said Bigler provided access to an information network previously unavailable at Cayuga Correctional. “I never realized how many people who are outside are there to help us.”