§ 24–1302. Establishment of the Office on Returning Citizen Affairs.
(a) There is established, as a subordinate Executive agency within the Public Safety and Justice cluster, the Office on Returning Citizen Affairs. The Office shall coordinate and monitor service delivery to returning citizens. The Office shall make recommendations to the Mayor to promote the general welfare, empowerment, and reintegration of returning citizens in the areas of employment and workforce development, health care, education, housing, and social services.
(b)(1) The Office shall be headed by an Executive Director, who shall be appointed by the Mayor with the advice and consent of the Council pursuant to § 1-523.01(a). The Director shall be a full-time employee, for whom annual compensation shall be fixed in accordance with subchapter X-A of Chapter 6 of Title 1.
(2) The Director shall:
(A) Serve as principal advisor to the Mayor on matters related to the reintegration of returning citizens into the general population;
(B) Serve as an advocate for returning citizens;
(C) Respond to recommendations and policy statements from the Commission;
(D) Identify areas for service improvement and policy development and implementation for presentation to the Mayor and the Commission by funding research, hosting symposia, and undertaking other projects;
(E) Coordinate efforts of District government agencies targeted toward returning citizens;
(F) Accept volunteer services and funding from public and private sources to supplement the budget in carrying out the duties and responsibilities of the Office;
(G) Apply for, receive, and expend any gift or grant to further the purposes of the Office;
(H) File an annual report on the operations of the Office with the Mayor and the Council;
(I) Meet and coordinate with members of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, as set forth in § 22-4233(a), and their designates, to disseminate information and recommendations to and from the voting members of the Commission[;]
(J) Establish a pilot program for Fiscal Year 2019 to provide transportation subsidies to returning citizens, pursuant to criteria to be developed by the Office, in the amount of $60,000[; and]
[(K)] By January 1, 2020, develop a plan to register qualified electors, as that term is defined in § 1-1001.02(2), who are in the custody of the Department of Corrections or the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, or are returning citizens, to vote and provide them with information about the voting rights of individuals currently incarcerated or with a criminal record in the District.
(L) Establish and implement a pilot program to support the employment of 10 returning citizens through grants to employers for 2 years beginning in Fiscal Year 2021; provided, that:
(i) To qualify for the pilot program, an eligible employer shall:
(I) Register with the Office on Returning Citizen Affairs to accept applications for employment from eligible individuals;
(II) Demonstrate that potential employees in the pilot program have opportunities for advancement within the eligible employer's organization or industry;
(III) Hire one or more eligible individuals who meet the requirements of sub-subparagraph (ii) of this subparagraph;
(IV) Be located within the District;
(V) Pay each employed eligible individual at least the minimum wage required pursuant to subchapter I of Chapter 10 of Title 32;
(VI) Employ each eligible individual for a minimum of 20 hours per week for a minimum of 8 weeks;
(VII) Submit an application; and
(VIII) Provide documentation as required by the Office on Returning Citizen Affairs to substantiate the satisfaction of each requirement of the pilot program for the participating eligible employer and for each eligible individual employed.
(ii) For an eligible employer to receive a grant for the employment of an eligible individual, the eligible individual must:
(I) Have been previously incarcerated;
(II) Be a resident of the District;
(III) Have completed a workforce development and life skills program within the District; and
(IV) Have been unemployed for a period of at least one month prior to being hired by the participating eligible employer.
(iii) Grants offered through the pilot program shall be disbursed:
(I) Initially, after an eligible employer has provided documentation substantiating that the eligible employer employed an eligible individual for a minimum of 20 hours per week for a minimum of 8 weeks;
(II) Subsequent to the initial disbursement, at the end of each month that the eligible individual is employed pursuant to the requirements of the pilot program;
(iv) The maximum amount of the grant disbursements offered through the pilot program to each participating eligible employer shall be:
(I) For the first year that an eligible individual is employed by a participating eligible employer, 40% of the minimum wage for a period not to exceed 40 hours per week and 2,080 hours per year for each eligible individual hired under the pilot program; and
(II) For the second year that an eligible individual is employed by the same participating eligible employer, 80% of the minimum wage for a period not to exceed 40 hours per week and 2,080 hours per year for each eligible individual hired under the pilot program.
(v)(I) The total amount of funding expended through the pilot program shall not exceed the amount budgeted for the pilot program.
(II) Eligible employers shall receive funding in the order that they successfully provide the documentation required pursuant to sub-subparagraph (i)(VII) of this subparagraph for the employment of an eligible individual.
(III) For each eligible individual for whom documentation successfully has been submitted, an amount of funds shall be set aside such that the eligible employer may be reimbursed for the employment of an eligible individual for a period no shorter than the remainder of the fiscal year during which the documentation was submitted, and the remainder of the assistance shall be subject to the availability of funding.
(M) Conduct a Paralegal Fellowship Initiative pilot program that places a cohort of returning citizen students in an accredited, university-based paralegal certification program located in the District of Columbia, while providing the students with support services necessary for their success.
(N) By December 1, 2021, coordinate with youth-serving government agencies, non-government entities, and individuals to conduct and submit to the Council a comprehensive needs assessment for children in the District who have experienced the incarceration of a parent. The assessment shall:
(i) Examine the impact on children resulting from parental incarceration;
(ii) Identify the social, emotional, economic, educational, housing, health, mental health, and other needs of children impacted by parental incarceration;
(iii) Estimate the number of children who are currently, or have been, impacted by parental incarceration in total and by ward; and
(iv) Specify the gaps between existing services available in the community and the identified needs of children impacted by parental incarceration.
(O) By March 1, 2022, coordinate with youth-serving government agencies, non-government entities, and individuals to submit a strategic plan to the Council that outlines how the District can specifically meet the social, emotional, economic, educational, housing, health, mental health, and other needs of children whose parents are incarcerated. The strategic plan shall include:
(i) The timeline and resources necessary to meet the identified needs; and
(ii) Recommendations for any policy or legislative reforms necessary to meet the needs of children impacted by parental incarceration.
(3) The Office shall have staff as funded by appropriations and federal or private grants.
(4) The Director may communicate and coordinate with and seek information from the federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"), including by:
(A) Developing and maintaining a database containing the name, location of incarceration, and contact information for each District resident incarcerated by the BOP who is expected to be released within the next 6 months; and
(B) Contacting each District resident incarcerated by the BOP who is expected to be released within the next 6 months to provide:
(i) Information detailing available housing and employment resources, including any necessary application forms;
(ii) The Office's contact information; and
(iii) The necessary information to apply for birth certificates and non-driver identification cards.