In the fall of 2009, New Haven Mayor John Destefano vowed to plant 10,000 new trees across the city, a goal that will require the close cooperation of the Urban Resources Initiative (URI) for successful completion. Not long after, the Pew Center on the States released a report that found 43.3 percent of people released from prison in 2004 were reincarcerated within three years.
URI, connecting these two challenging figures, is working with the city to achieve its tree-planting goal through the development of a green jobs program to help ex-offenders transitioning from incarceration to gainful employment. This group is chronically overlooked on the job market, with unemployment rates topping 50 percent in some cases. Unemployment is considered one of the major drivers of recidivism. The green jobs program was designed to simultaneously address the costly urban problems of recidivism and sparse forest resources.