JobTrain is proud to join policymakers, community organizations, corrections officials, and other leaders in commemorating Second Chance Month—celebrated throughout April—by highlighting efforts to support people transitioning from prison or jail back into the community.
Second Chance Month was born out of the Second Chance Act, a law passed by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush on April 9, 2008. Today, leaders of all kinds agree that reducing recidivism promotes public safety and builds stronger communities.
JobTrain, a recognized expert in Workforce Development, has a long history of working with currently or formerly incarcerated individuals, helping these individuals gain the job and life skills needed to obtain employment and become contributing members of their communities.
For individuals currently incarcerated, JobTrain believes it is important to provide services to individuals prior to their release; therefore, we provide a wide variety of work readiness, employment training and substance abuse programs and services in the San Mateo County jails. JobTrain has a close relationship with the San Mateo Sheriff’s Department and we work together to make sure that we are offering the best programming for the inmates. At the Maple Street Correctional Center, in Redwood City, California, we offer certificate programs in Culinary Arts, Bread & Pastry Arts, Gold Standard Hospitality, Construction Pre-apprentice and ServSafe Food Handling Certification. To help inmates to be successful re-entering their communities, we provide Work Readiness and Success Coaching Counseling, Life Skills Workshops and Cognitive Behavioral Intervention Counseling for Substance Abuse.
Preparing for release can be a daunting and confusing road to travel, so in partnership with Five Keys Schools, a charter school that provides GED and High School Diploma education in county jails throughout California, JobTrain has a staff member assigned as a Career Vocational Navigator. The Navigator works with inmates prior to their release to create a re-entry plan, and upon release helps them to navigate back into their communities. In 2018, JobTrain expanded its in-jail programming to include: Culinary & Pastry Arts, Work Readiness and Success Coach Counseling, Cognitive Behavioral Intervention Substance Abuse Counseling, and Construction Pre-apprentice training.
All of this work requires a strong working relationship with county officials. We are an active part of the weekly program huddle, which is an opportunity for the in-custody program staff to discuss the progress of the inmates and develop a plan for them upon release. JobTrain has been invited to the table at these meetings to provide information on education, training and program referrals. Some inmates may be interested in continuing their education, so we refer them to education sites to continue their work on their high school diploma, GED or enrollment into a Community College.
These trainings in the jails, combined with JobTrain work furlough program in which inmates come to JobTrain during the day for classes, is creating a pipeline of opportunity for individuals to the gain the job and life skills they need when they exit the jails. We are pleased to report that the recidivism rate of those who have completed JobTrain’s training/work furlough program is only 31%, much lower than the state average of 65%.
To spread the word about the importance of programs like JobTrain’s which help individuals reintegrate into their community, and in celebration of Second Chance Month, the National Reentry Resource Center is highlighting events happening across the country that showcase the rich reentry landscape that provides opportunities for people returning to their communities from incarceration, which range from resource fairs to interviews with governors. You can find a calendar of these events and follow the discussion on social media throughout the month using #ReentryMatters.