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Ex-Convict Demoted After Mismanaging Reentry Program

Before his release in 2003, Ronald L. Cuie had served almost three years in Pennsylvania prisons for aggravated assault, robbery and criminal conspiracy. However, it was his successful work under two previous Philadelphia mayors that convinced Mayor Mike Nutter to appoint him over an office created to help former prisoners successfully reintegrate into society.

“My passion is inside the [prison] walls,” said Cuie. “I’m as happy as I can be. I’m grateful to have this opportunity.”

But after just six months Cuie had managed to overspend the budget for the Mayor’s Office for the Reentry of Ex-Offenders, breach existing contracts and hire too many employees. In August 2008, Mayor Nutter reassigned Cuie to another position.

Cuie’s original appointment came with much fanfare. Philadelphia had already taken a novel stance in the way it dealt with released prisoners. In 2005, under the leadership of former mayor John F. Street, city leaders created a $2.6 million budget aimed at reducing recidivism by assisting ex-offenders following their release from prison. Along with hiring Cuie, Mayor Nutter had championed legislation to persuade businesses to hire ex-offenders by giving them a $10,000 tax credit.

Further, Impact Services Corp. was awarded $705,000 to find jobs for former prisoners. Cuie’s fiscal mismanagement, however, caused that contract to be terminated about a month before it expired, and with only $40,000 of the balance paid. At the time of the contract termination, Impact had found employment for 420 ex-offenders. Around 35,000 prisoners are released each year from Philadelphia-area prisons.

Impact Services has since been paid most of the money it was due, but according to Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Everett Gillison, “There was hiring done beyond what the budget could support so we had to end a contract short to make up the deficit.” Impact director Ray Jones summed it up by saying, “Somebody dropped the ball in that office.”
On August 29, 2008, eight of the people hired by Cuie were terminated. He has since been reassigned to a position as special assistant to Deputy Mayor Gullison; his job entails working on reentry projects with prisoners immediately upon incarceration rather than waiting until they are released. Although Cuie initially retained his $87,500 annual salary, by February 2009 his pay had been reduced to $60,000.

Sources: Philadelphia Inquirer,

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