PAR-Recycle Works – https://home.par- recycleworks.org/ – provides transitional employment to people returning from prison. The abbreviation “PAR” in the name PAR-Recycle Works stands for “People Advancing Reintegration.” This non-profit collects electronics or e-waste such as computers, printers, televisions, monitors, wires, batteries, and other electronic devices which are obsolete, discarded or at their end-of-life stage. PAR trains its employees to collect, sort, and deconstruct e-waste as well as destroy data. The deconstructed materials are sold “downstream” to a vendor who “upcycles” these materials.
The hard data on recidivism in PAR’s geographic area shows that PAR is succeeding in its mission. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Recidivism Report of 2022, 62.2% of Philadelphians who are released from prison are reincarcerated within 3 years. PAR serves as a case study for reversing this trend. Employees at PAR’s–which operates from a warehouse in North Philadelphia–experience a recidivism rate of a mere 5%. This contrasts markedly to the national rate of 68%.
What is the key to PAR’s success? Employment. PAR provides on-site job training skills that are transferable to other sectors. PAR General Manager Maurice Q. Jones describes the broad job readiness training for his employees: “PAR employees receive education in digital and financial literacy, conflict management, and mental health strategies during their time here. We also hope to build a sense of personal accountability and dedication among our staff. These important and transferable skills help PAR employees secure steady jobs after their time with us.” PAR’s model is working: PAR has provided job placement for 65% of its employees. Over 110 individuals have participated in PAR’s program.
PAR serves its employees, the local community, and the environment. General Manager Jones sums it best: “9000 people come home from prison each year. Diverting valuable material from landfills allows PAR to help many of these people successfully re-integrate. Through training and assistance, all are rewarded by the value that they can now see in themselves and in their futures. We work together to create a pool of trained, untapped talent for employers. In this way, PAR sustainably reduces recidivism and violence and creates a pathway to positive progress for those left out for so long.”
PAR Recycle Works is making a difference: by improving people’s lives and recycling harmful electronic waste, one person and one device at a time.