The Prison Re-entry Program was developed as a strategy to reduce recidivism among those offenders returning to the community with little or no job skills and life skills that are more conducive to street life than to employment. Those with felony charges are in particular disadvantage for returning to the community to find meaningful, wage labor employment as few employers will hire ex-felons.
This program is a collaboration between the Department of Probation, Energy Committed to Offenders (ECO) and BRIDGE Jobs. Probation alerts ECO of offenders to be released within 6 weeks of their actual release date. ECO makes contacts with the inmates and begins the process of determining individual re-entry needs (identification and social security cards, transportation, housing, etc.). Upon release, ECO sets up housing arrangements and the released are brought to the site by their probation officer. ECO sets up meetings to take care of immediate issues as well as determining training and employment needs. Some will complete resumes, undergo training on interview skills, contact employers (phone service with voice mail is provided by ECO), and attend interviews until a job is obtained. Others will be referred to BRIDGE for GED and/or vocational training.
The program initiated out of the Parkwood community and is in the process of expanding to the entire North Tryon Police District. 10 released offenders have thus far participated. Two have obtained employment.