South Carolina employment officials are now expanding a program that trains prison inmates to reenter the workforce making it available to offenders at a female institution.
The state Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) and Department of Corrections (SCDC) announced Monday they have expanded the “Second Chance” program to the Camille Griffin Graham women’s correctional facility in Columbia.
Second Chance helps returning citizens learn a skill and understand how to successfully search for a job. The program began at the Manning Reentry/Work Release Center in November 2014. Since then, 765 people have completed the program.
“When people have jobs upon leaving prison or shortly after leaving prison they are less likely to return to the facilities,” DEW spokesman Bob Bouyea told South Carolina Radio Network.
“Providing job training to offenders gives them self-confidence, direction and a skillset for their betterment now and upon release,” SCDC Director Bryan Stirling said in a statement. “This job training also increases public safety by decreasing the recidivism rate, which is lower for people who have jobs, reducing the burden on the system and the taxpayer.”
DEW has hired a full-time employee to work at the Graham facility to coach and assist returning citizens develop the work skills they need to find employment. Starting six months prior to release, ex-offenders are taught employment and soft skills in class for one hour each day. During their last 30 days, participants work directly with a DEW counselor to become registered in the SC Works system, craft a resume and apply for jobs online once released.
Participants in the program must meet specific requirements, including a disciplinary-free record and being incarcerated for a non-violent offenses. Upon release, they receive a folder packet that includes a federal bonding letter as well as information for businesses about potential tax credits available when hiring a returning citizen for which the employer could be eligible.