Hamilton County Jail’s New Career-Readiness Program
The Indianapolis Business Journal recently published an article featuring the Hamilton County Jail career-readiness program TOWER, or Transitioning Opportunities for Work, Education, and Reality program. The five-week program is a partnership with the Region 5 WorkOne Center and aims to reduce the recidivism rate in the jail.
Inmates accepted into the TOWER program prepare resumes and cover letters, work on career skills, take personality assessments, sign up for employment websites, and apply for management, leadership and OSHA certifications. WorkOne educators not only provide education, but work with businesses in the county to develop partnerships for future employment opportunities. Some inmates have even been able to interview and secure positions before their release.
The TOWER program, which is the first of its kind at a jail facility, has been funded by a two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The $427,337 grant allows for two full-time employees from WorkOne to work directly from the jail. It also funds the cost of eight laptops, software and classroom equipment.
The article focuses on Ashley Whitsey, an inmate serving 180 days in the jail. After being accepted to the program, Ashley, like others in the program, has been able to work on interviewing and career skills. She will continue with the program after she is released by following up with WorkOne educators from the jail and at the local WorkOne office. They plan on developing a community mentorship aspect which aims to “help connect the recently released inmates with individuals who can provide guidance on both work and non-work-related issues, such as opening a bank account for the first time.”
Congratulations to the Region 5 Workforce Board staff, including IAACE and Indiana Literacy Association Board member Patricia Griffin, IAACE members Lance Ratliff and Becky Branham, who wrote and submitted this proposal. Their success in developing a competitive proposal was due to their collaboration during the proposal process with IAACE Board member Sara Gutting, the Adult Education Instructor at the Hamilton County Jail for 22 years now, and with Hamilton County jail personnel, Captain Jason Sloderbeck. We plan on providing updates as the program progresses.