In his first press conference after assuming the role of U.S. Attorney following William Hochul's retirement, acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr., announced a new 'Smart on Crime' initiative.
The plan aims to improve the lives of convicted criminals post release and the community as a whole.
Parolees in Buffalo and Rochester will be rehabilitated and supplied with job skills. 10 individuals will be trained and certified in asbestos removal and remediation. 30 people will receive forklift training and certification.
"These previously convicted felons are literally and figuratively being given the opportunity to clean-up and raise-up their lives," said Kennedy.
"It just expands the different things I can do once I'm able to get out and about. anything I can do to expand my chances of getting gainfully employed I'm all for that," said Rodney Sheard, who served 16 years of a 20 year sentence for running a crime enterprise.
Sheard is currently participating in the Smart on Crime initiative and is training for asbestos removal.
Smart on Crime will also fund Recycle-a-Bicycle, which will provide at-risk youth at the Matt Urban Hope Centers in Buffalo with a donated bicycle, which they will strip part-by-part to the frame. They will then learn to re-assemble the bike. The program is meant to teach problem solving and the idea that "they have the ability to fix things that are broken."
The program currently has a budget of $15,000. If successful, the U.S. Attorney's office plans to expand the program.
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