Hamilton County Jail TOWER Job Fair

The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office’s Transitioning Opportunities for Work, Education, and Reality (TOWER) program at the adult jail held its first Job Fair on Tuesday, October 10. As part of the continuing effort to reduce recidivism rates among the Hamilton County Jail’s inmate population, TOWER is aimed at assisting inmates with finding employment after incarceration. Partnering with WorkOne Center, an Indiana workforce development organization, the Hamilton County Jail obtained funding to provide employment services to serve selected sentenced inmates who are within 180 days of being released from jail. Inmates desiring to break the cycle of incarceration and to change behaviors to more productive lifestyles learn and practice employment skills to improve their lives.

Employers and employment agencies from around central Indiana participated in the TOWER Job Fair. Organizations offering assistance to inmates transitioning to employment included Wheeler Mission, GDI Integrated Facility Services, Salvation Army, Firehouse Subs, Beyond the Bridge, Enerdel, Aspire, Transformations, YWCA of Muncie, Sugar Fork Crossing, Continental Inc., Total Restoration, C&R Roofing, WorkOne and Merciful Hope Center. Representatives met with TOWER participants in short interest interviews that may lead to employment offers at future dates.

TOWER consists of five weeks of workshops totaling 25 hours. During sessions, participants learn important life and career skills such as searching for jobs, crafting a resume, writing a cover letter, completing an employment application, conducting an interview, dressing for success, and following-up on an interview. New classes typically see 60-70 applicants but due to class size limitations, fewer than half are accepted into the program. Classes, held inside the jail, are facilitated by two onsite Career Coaches, Cassie Owen Mata and Tori Thorlton. Upon release from the Hamilton County Jail, class graduates transition to a local WorkOne office for continued assistance with life and job skills outside the correctional environment. A mentoring component may be added as part of TOWER as the program progresses.

The TOWER program is 100% funded by a federal grant provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training. Funds provide for two Career Coaches at the Hamilton County Jail over an 18 month period. Since its inception at the Hamilton County Jail in April 2017, TOWER has seen more than 70 graduates with multiple success stories of individuals employed in a variety of careers. While the national recidivism rate is over 40%, only around 4% of TOWER graduates in Hamilton County have seen a return to jail. TOWER is part of a holistic approach to reducing recidivism.

​Businesses and organizations interested in partnering with the TOWER program may contact Cassie Mata at cowenmata@workonecentral.org. TOWER plans to conduct job fairs at the jail on a regular basis as class sessions culminate.