New York City is betting on a plan to offer jobs to released jail inmates as a way to break the cycle of incarceration.

Mayor Bill de Blasio's $10 million-a-year "jails to jobs" initiative will guarantee all Rikers Island inmates serving sentences of a year or less a chance at short-term employment once they do their time. The jobs will last up to eight weeks, with hourly wages covered by taxpayer money rather than the pockets of the employers.

Supporters say transitional jobs are a good investment because research shows that inmates who get them are less likely to break the law again and go back to the notorious jail, where costs of housing each prisoner can top $200,000 a year.

Critics say it wastes money by rewarding criminals.