Program seeks to help Marion County Jail inmates find work

Keywords Law / Marion County Jail
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A new program is seeking to help short-term inmates jailed in Indiana's largest county find work.

The Linking Employment Activities Pre-release program, or LEAP, at the Marion County Jail was funded last June by a $500,000 U.S. Department of Labor grant.

The program offers jail inmates job training, resume development, practice for interviewing and other employment services before they get released, said Brian Van Bokkelen of EmployIndy, which coordinated the grant application and program.

Job training starts with the candidates taking a two-week classroom program, during which they're taught about resume preparation and interview and work-related skills, The Indianapolis Star reported.

The organization Public Advocates in Community Re-entry talks with inmates to discern their skills and find industries that might be a good match, said Shonna Majors, group's director of employment services. Majors said she works with more than 100 Indianapolis-area companies in areas including hospitality and construction. She said other employers want machine operators and welders, so training will often be provided.

"A lot of our clients have not had a typical 9-to-5 job," Majors said. "The job training has been amazing, because it's exposing these guys and teaching them a skill set that they didn't have before."

Nearly half of people in Marion County who've been released from a corrections facility will offend again within three years, according to statistics provided by the consulting firm Community Solutions. Of those people, 63 percent were unemployed when their criminal offense occurred.

Program participant Tyrone Anderson said that without a job, "you fall back into old habits." ''If you ain't right, you will be back," Anderson said. "But this gives you a chance to get straight."

Grant funding goes through June 2017. Majors said organizers hope to work with about 100 inmates in the program's duration.

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