A Baton Rouge-based nonprofit has received a federal grant to connect soon-to-be-released incarcerated people with potential employers.
Advocates with the Louisiana Parole Project say the Employment Enhancement Program can help employers find motivated and skilled workers in today’s tight labor market.
They plan to work with business leaders in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans regions to address concerns about hiring formerly incarcerated individuals, identify desired skills that EEP clients could provide, and create a streamlined process from release to employment that benefits both parties.
Louisiana’s incarceration rate is among the highest (if not the highest) in the world. The vast majority of those people will be released at some point, and being able to find steady employment makes them less likely to re-offend.
“Either we’re going to open our doors and give them opportunities, or we will forever be stuck with dealing with the repercussions of not believing in second chances,” says Tim Wilkinson, project manager with the Parole Project.
State facilities will give the Parole Project a list of potential candidates. To be considered, candidates must:
- Be work-ready.
- Have received some sort of education or certification while in custody.
- Have gone at least one year without any disciplinary action while inside.
- Be preparing for release into the Parole Project’s service area.
The Parole Project will interview candidates who meet the criteria to ensure they’re ready, Wilkinson says, adding that only 2% of Parole Project clients go back to prison. Resumés will be forwarded to potential employers, who can schedule an online job interview.
Prisoners have access to a wide array of training that the Louisiana Community and Technical College system provides, Wilkinson says. Skills can include everything from welding and pipefitting to graphic design, he says.