One in three Americans has a criminal record- this program works to give those people a second chance

The Second Chance Program works to line inmates up with jobs sometimes before they are even released
Published: Apr. 29, 2022 at 8:45 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - As Lake Area employers struggle to find enough people to fill open positions, there’s an untapped pool of candidates they may have never considered.

April is second change month- declared by the governor and president. This month is a time to recognize a program that works to help inmates have a smooth transition from incarceration, out into society, by helping them get certified in certain work areas, and even line them up with a job sometimes before they are even released.

“If you give them a job when they get out, they’re going to be a productive member of society, even a tax paying member,” said Missy Young.

The Second Chance Program is working to do just that. They are working to help people like Hillary Thomas, who has started his own business since being released.

“Well right now I’m doing a lot of construction work, trying to get the city of Lake Charles back together,” said Thomas.

Thomas is working on multiple projects in the lake area right now, but he doesn’t keep all of the work for himself.

“I also hire people in the community, just try to keep them working, let them make some money where they can feed their families,” said Thomas.

Statistics show that 1 in 3 Americans have a criminal record- that’s the same number as those that have a college diploma.

Missy Young with the Louisiana Department of Corrections, explained that the program helps incarcerated individuals in the state overcome at least one of the barriers they face when they’re released from prison.

“There are barriers that keep everyone down when they get out. That’s: housing, food, employment, transportation are the four big ones. By removing those barriers, they’re more likely to not recidivate,” said Young.

The program offers over 40 certifications, to jump start the hiring process when they are released.

“It’s an untapped work resource, you know hiring resource. The employers are now able to hire these persons who have been trained and gotten certifications at no cost to them,” said Young.

All of this- giving people like Thomas- a second chance.

“It gives us a chance to, a second chance to get back into society and do well. it also gives us a chance to focus on a brighter future,” said Thomas.

Inmates go through an extensive vetting process to be approved for this program.

There is also a workforce program where the employer can actually interview the person prior to release and line up for employment.

The incarcerated individuals will have the opportunity to submit a resume, and the job seeker can view all of the resumes, set up interviews, and make hires.

To learn more about the Second Chance Program, or visit the Workforce Portal click HERE.

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