If you’re an inmate about to be released from prison, you want a chance to rebuild your life and start over with hope for the future. Getting a job is key to that fresh start.
But you can’t apply for jobs until you’re released. That could be anywhere from 30 to 90 days, and there’s a good chance the job will be filled by then.
Prison staff sometimes bring you job listings when they have the time, usually on Post-It notes or clipped from newspapers. But by then, the listings are out of date. You may not know if you have the right skills or even if you need to submit a resume to be considered for a job.
This is the reality many soon-to-be-released inmates face as they prepare for life outside of prison.
A Head Start at a Second Chance
To solve this dilemma and give inmates a head start on their job search, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has been partnering with JobView, a Minnesota-based company, to install kiosks that allow inmates to peruse current local, state and nationwide job listings.
Known as JOBview 2ndChance, the kiosks enable inmates to find openings that match skills they may have developed before entering prison or via training they received while they were incarcerated. It also helps them see if those skills are still up-to-date.
“I have previous experience as a grill cook and would like to work at a restaurant chain when I get out,” one user said. “Through JOBview, I learned that I would have to send this restaurant chain a resume to be considered for the job.”
In addition to being used in five state prison locations in Texas, the kiosks are also being used by re-entry facilities such as probation offices and halfway houses.
Windham School District, which works within the TDCJ, also features a JobView link on its website that allows family members to search listings on behalf of their incarcerated relatives.
Another Tool to End the Cycle of Incarceration
Work opportunities are extremely important, but for many incarcerated individuals, access to education and a connection to a strong support system is also needed to help them successfully reenter society after they are released from prison.
Companies like Edovo are helping inmates gain educational knowledge needed to improve themselves so that they are able to become more productive members of their communities. Pigeonly is a company that helps individuals stay connected to their families and loved ones. Meanwhile, a group called The Messages Project is helping bring children of inmates closer to their incarcerated parents by fostering interaction through video messaging and other technological avenues.
Innovative solutions like these are what we need to end the cycle of incarceration, especially given that three out of four inmates in jail right now are in danger of returning to prison within five years of their release.