Essex County Sherrif’s Department Receives Grant To Fund Re-Entry Program

One of the most important aspects of rehabilitation is ensuring that formerly-incarnated people can return to society afterward, and not become repeat offenders. That is why programs that focus on helping incarcerated people survive and thrive on the outside are critical, and cost-saving as well.

Essex County Sheriff’s Department has received a 4 million dollar grant which will allow them to provide training for up to 550 current inmates, and assist them with finding jobs for after they leave prison, which will help them and their families.

The Sheriff’s Department already has programming in place, like Hardscape, which is teaching inmates skills for the outside through their Re-entry Vocational Training Center. These funds will expand current programing, in areas like Fiber Optics Based Systems training, Telecommunications Technologies, Energy Management. Inmates are even able to take college-level courses.

U.S. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia announced this funding along with $90 million in Labor Pathways Home grants that will go to 26 separate organizations.

Scalia had this to say about the Labor Pathways Home grants being awarded:

“The training and other services, such as funds for legal assistance to help former offenders obtain licenses or modify things like child support, is aimed at providing a “fresh start”.

Essex County Sheriff Kevin Coppinger said that these programs would help the jail expand its current programming to help prepare prisoners for life on the outside. The Sheriff said that this grant helps the department to overcome it’s the greatest obstacle, which is funding. The jail will be partnering with Volunteers of America.

This program is not just about building hard skills though, which is especially important as the COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on the economy and the job market. Volunteers of America, Massachusetts, President, and CEO, said that the goal of this program is to take an overall holistic approach to training. This means that the program will focus on both job training and other issues that might prevent people from being able to acquire employment, like so-called “soft skills“, like being able to speak to a supervisor or explain gaps in a resume.

Coppinger says that the department will train and prepare inmates with job skills, and Volunteers of America will work with formerly-incarcerated people to help them find jobs after they leave the jail.