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Philly courts hosted a job fair for the pre-trial population

It was an unconventional job fair.

There were no splashy banners advertising companies, no branded swag, no suits. Just folks filling out paperwork on the benches of a Philadelphia courtroom Monday — sometimes with a drug test swab in their mouth — waiting for an interview where they’d hear about their options: food service, warehouse work, cleaning. Most would get an offer within a day or two.

It was a job fair for people who have been arrested and are on pretrial supervision. As part of the city’s MacArthur Foundation-backed efforts to reduce the jail population, the First Judicial District recently partnered with the city’s Department of Behavioral Health to have social worker Jennifer Fuller help people access mental health counseling, housing support, and education. Employment is another focus for people under supervision, which is why the job fair originated.

“Employment is very much linked to reduced recidivism,” said the First Judicial District’s chief of pretrial services, Michael Bouchard, “and that’s one of the main goals of pretrial supervision: no new arrests.”

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