There’s a stigma associated with incarceration, but more than anyone, it is these set of people that needs to be given a second chance in life most. By giving them a chance to flip their lives, the public benefits through safer communities and new productive members of society. The Orange County Florida Corrections Department gets this more than anyone else when they decided to implement a program that equips inmates with much-needed skills that give them a chance to live better lives.
Robert Bartnett, the Senior Program Manager of the OCCD Construction Program, is this session’s guest instructor. Robert graduated from the University of Central Florida with a BS and MS in criminal justice and the Saint Leo University with an MBA specializing in Project Management. Robert hopes to implement similar initiatives in county jails across the United States.
On this webinar, Robert will share details on the OCCD Construction Program development including points like:
- The typical circumstances that surround an inmate’s release that end up with the individual back to the same situation they were in prior incarceration driving potential recidivism.
- The OCCD Construction Program success stories that exhibit how the program enabled three former inmates to turn their lives around by securing lucrative employment.
- The importance of first researching for and understanding the demands for specific jobs which shall determine the success of the program.
- Inclusions such as providing classroom training, hands-on projects, value-adding certifications, and grants privileges that guarantees a way to work for the graduates of the program.
- Qualifications that the inmate must meet to be part of the OCCD Construction Program.
- Other unique factors that comprise the program with the projects built to benefit other local social service agencies and fosters collaboration among otherwise conflicting inmates.
- The program after-care measures provided to the inmates such as:
- Needed items such as an updated resume and construction tools furnished to the graduates and a tour of construction sites.
- Job performance tracking for released including retention and promotions.
- Challenges encountered including:
- Ensuring employment within 14-days from release.
- Targeted employment by distance to the graduates’ home.
- Securing safety by applying worksite policy and standards and when inmates are working with construction tools that may be used as weapons.
- Obtaining staff buy-in based on success stories.
- The programs’ unpredictable outcomes like:
- Inmates wanting to stay longer in jail to finish the program.
- Companies’ representatives speaking in classes as the most impactful part of the program in motivating the students.
- Interviews being established before release date ensuring employment post-release.
- Full benefits including 401K plans for the program graduates.
- Outcomes including:
- Success rate in securing a job by age group that influenced the make-up of the classes.
- The reduced recidivism driven by the opportunity to live a different life.
- Lessened employment opportunities between the months of November to December which influenced the class schedule.
- The necessary ingredients that fueled the program’s success through:
- Supportive administration and staff that’s willing to take risks
- Positive partnerships with universities that provides the instructors and companies that offer employment opportunities.
- Openness to learn from past mistakes.
- Close relationship with the PIO to publicize the successes of the program which in turn resulted in interest from other stakeholders and potential partners.
- Questions raised by the webinar attendees included:
- Minimum skills for the construction jobs.
- Types of crimes committed that could prohibit an inmate from joining the program.
- Challenges encountered with the co-ed classes.
- Age restriction for use of power tools.
- Combining life skills and trade programs
- Establishing funding and resources for the program.
- Getting the word out about the program to other inmates.
This webinar is part of the 2019 #Catalyst4Change Awards. Other webinars in this series include:
- May 9: From Detention to Legacy: The Creation of the Legacy Teen Center
- May 22: Differentiating by Risk & Enhancing Skill Building Techniques to Motivate Positive Change
- “Learning what is available through the Orange County jail. This is a wonderful program to provide individuals with the incentive to change their lives.” — Lizzie
- “How fast you can train people to make a decent living if you just give them a chance – and the setting doesn’t matter. What a game changer!” –Sharon
- “Companies are willing to work with the program to hire graduates! This is great news!!” –Susan
- “A great example of a program creating beneficial results that can be applied throughout the nation.” –Nicholas
- “All the human interest stories were so great. Put a human factor into the difference that the program is making.” — Tracie