Project New Opportunity (PNO) is a Washington D. C – based project of the Center for Community Alternatives (CCA), a New York nonprofit organization serving diverse populations in New York State and widely recognized as a national leader in the field of community-based and client-centered alternatives to incarceration. Malcolm C. Young, an attorney experienced in criminal justice sentencing and reentry programs and policies and Marsha Weissman, CCA’s former Executive Director and currently serving as CCA’s Senior Policy Advisor conceived, developed and launched PNO.


PNO’s mission is to ensure the successful return of men and women from the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Our first priority was to serve individuals who were released ahead of their original sentence date because of:

(1) a grant of Presidential clemency or sentence commutation; and

(2) a “Drugs Minus Two” sentence modification.

With the passage of the First Step Act, PNO would continue to emphasize support for individuals who will be released ahead of schedule without necessarily afforded needed preparation. PNO would address concerns about federal reentry during the two-and-one-half years before the First Step Act will be fully implemented.

PNO initially assisted  individuals returning to certain geographical areas: Virginia, DC, Maryland, northern Illinois (Chicago) and eastern Pennsylvania (Philadelphia). In practice, PNO developed a capacity to assist individuals returning to other locations, particularly when we identified special needs and as we connected with local resources. PNO is currently revising its strategy for accepting clients based on the geographical location to which they return.


PNO’s method is to help individuals prepare early for their release, while they are still incarcerated.  Whenever time permits, PNO assigns Reentry Consultants to returning federal prisoners as much as a year in advance of their release, generally about  six months in advance of a transfer to a halfway house. The First Step Act is expected to accelerate release for approximately 2,000 – 3,000 individuals; PNO’s objective would be to work with as many as possible for as much time in advance of release as possible.

During the period in advance of release from the BOP, PNO’s Reentry Consultants advise on steps to take to obtain identification and make every effort to connect each individual with supporting family, social and community members in the location in which the individual expects to be living. The Reentry Consultant will introduce the individual to agencies and organizations which provide services to meet needs and address specific problems build on strengths and assets. The Reentry Consultant will help build a support network in his or her future community. Importantly, the Reentry Consultant establishes a level of trust which increases as the Reentry Consultant continues to  support the individual as he or she leaves the BOP, enters a contract halfway house, moves to home confinement, and then transfers to the supervision of federal probation.

Project New Opportunity is a team effort, a partnership among individuals, agencies and organizations committed to the successful return of previously incarcerated individuals. Project New Opportunity and the arrangements that it facilitates supplement the reentry programming and assistance provided by the Bureau of Prison (BOP) staff or BOP’s risk assessment and assignment processes including assignments to half way houses. Whenever possible, PNO collaborates with Federal Probation Officers, Reentry Courts and local and state reentry coordinators dedicated to assisting individuals who have been incarcerated.


Reports and fact sheets prepared for and about PNO: