Tennessee Inmates Get a Jump Start on Landing a Job

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 | 06:00 am
Mobile Career Coach Brings Job Services to Corrections Institution
NASHVILLE – The Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the Department of Correction have partnered in a pilot project to combat inmate recidivism by bringing job resources to inmates before they are released. On June 28th, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. the Department of Labor’s mobile career center, the Career Coach, will visit the Charles B. Bass Correctional Complex to counsel inmates who are close to being released.
“After inmates have paid their dues to society, finding work can be the key to whether they succeed or fail,” said Labor Commissioner Karla Davis. “Everyone should have the opportunity to work, and if we can help former inmates land jobs, their chances of reintegrating into society are greatly improved.”
The Career Coach has the latest in job assistance hardware including 10 computer workstations with high-speed Internet access, copiers, printers, and career counselors who specialize in marketing individuals with a variety of backgrounds and skill sets. They travel the state offering workshops in job searching, resume writing and interviewing skills. Since their debut in April, the three Career Coaches have served nearly 5,000 jobseekers. 
“Inmates often leave the facility with skills that they’ve learned while incarcerated such as welding, carpentry, masonry, and electrical,” said Commissioner Derrick Schofield. “However, when inmates are released, like many of us, they don’t know how to properly market themselves. That’s where this partnership with Labor can benefit these individuals. Having an opportunity for meaningful employment puts the offenders in a better position to succeed while ultimately reducing our burden as taxpayers.”
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, nationally 650,000 inmates are released every year. One-third of those released return to prison. A lack of employment is one of the reasons. There are more than 20,000 offenders in Tennessee prisons. On average, each of those inmates costs the state $23,000 per year.
Tennessee employers can benefit from hiring ex-offenders by receiving federal income tax credits under the Work Opportunity Tax Credit program or WOTC. Tennessee is fifth in the nation for employers using WOTC, and last year Tennessee employers received in excess of $217 million in potential federal income tax credits for more than 46,000 workers moving into the workplace. To receive additional information regarding WOTC, please call 1-800-432-5268 (in state only) or visit http://www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/wotc.html.
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