Program targets jobs for ex-inmatesWisconsin inmates and prisoners may now find it easier to return to their lives when they’re no longer behind bars. A regional partnership is reaching out to ex-offenders through the state’s “Windows to Work” effort.
By: By Danielle Kaeding/GitcheGumeeGamut.com, Superior Telegram
Wisconsin inmates and prisoners may now find it easier to return to their lives when they’re no longer behind bars. A regional partnership is reaching out to ex-offenders through the state’s “Windows to Work” effort.
The Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board received $50,000 from the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) for the one-year “Windows to Work” project. Steve Terry is executive director of the Northwestern Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board. Terry says the money will be used to roll out the program at the Douglas County Jail and Stanley Correctional Institution.
“What we do is we work with the inmates six months pre-release and start getting a plan together for them, finding out where they’re at in terms of their employability skills, any career goals they might have and putting a portfolio together that’s going to help them when they get back to the community.”
Terry adds they’ll look to their contacts in the business community to help connect individuals with work. Shirley Moran is a business consultant for the Northwest Wisconsin Concentrated Employment Program. She began teaching the first group of inmates through “Windows to Work” in August under a program called “Breaking Barriers.”
“Which addresses criminal thinking and how to break the barriers that cause you to fall backward and re-offend,” he says.
Moran says lack of employment, education, and housing are common barriers, as well as drugs and alcohol.
“I show them how to take one problem that they have and take it out of the negative and turn it into a positive.”
Robert Galovich is the program coordinator at the Douglas County Jail in Superior. Galovich says the first group of 12 to 15 inmates really took to the program.
“I think I’ve got 24 guys on a waiting list already for the next couple classes. It was all word of mouth from those inmates.”
The program also provides case management for inmates six months after release. The DOC piloted the “Windows to Work” initiative in Green Bay and Milwaukee prior to expanding its reach elsewhere in the state.