Mayor Mike Duggan has announced the launch of a new job training program created specifically to transition inmates currently held in local corrections facilities into well-paying careers when they are released. Statistics show that unemployment among returning citizens is 76 percent in Wayne County.
The new programs, announced during the Mayor’s visit to the Detroit Reentry Center on Ryan Road in Detroit, provides in-facility training in environmental employment, culinary arts, and hi-lo operation. The training programs have been selected because they are on career paths where there is steady or growing demand for workers.
“In order for Detroit’s turnaround to be successful or complete, it has to include all Detroiters. That means our returning citizens have to know there is a path for them to start over and become productive members of our community,” said Mayor Duggan. “Employers I’ve spoken with say that the returning citizens they’ve hired are their best and most loyal employees.”
Many graduates of the original Detroit Environmental Employment Program (DEEP), which has been used as a template for this new corrections-based version, have entered the workforce earning as much as $20 per hour.
Groups of approximately 25 inmates will be trained in these programs every month. The certifications gained allow returning-citizens the opportunity to interview for positions as soon as they are released.
The program is funded by a $4 million grant in grant funds from the Michigan Talent Investment Agency and the Department of Labor, first announced by the mayor in 2015.
“It is a well-established fact that returning citizens are significantly less likely to reoffend if they are able to secure a living wage when they are released” said Wanda Stokes, Director of the Michigan Talent Investment Agency. “This new program gives them the opportunity to not only learn new skills but also to earn a recognized credential that employers value.”
The environmental employment training program was built on the recently completed DEEP that saw 79 Detroiters earn certifications in numerous environmental fields, with many moving into jobs that doubled their previous wages.
“We are happy to be able to offer these new programs here at DRC” said Warden Kenneth Romanowski. “The ability for offenders who are preparing to return to the community to direct energy towards a program that will truly benefit them upon their release is invaluable, and I’m delighted that the Mayor’s Office and the State of Michigan have been able to partner with us in making this opportunity available.”
Detroit Reentry Center inmate Joseph Gratiot is part of the asbestos abatement class that met the Mayor during his visit.
“I’m excited about the job possibilities that will come from this training” said Gratiot. “The idea of being released is something you look forward to, but you still worry about what you’re going to do when you get out. Once I earn my credentials I will really have something to show employers that proves I can get the job done.”
DESC One-Stop Service Centers have been in place at the DRC since late 2015 and since early this year at the Macomb Correctional Facility (MRF). Both One-Stops are modeled on DESC’s community One-Stops and offer many of the same services including education, vocational training, interview skills and resume development, and career advisement.
One-Stop staff work with the Michigan Department of Corrections to identify eligible candidates at DRC for screening and enrollment. Inmates that will return to Detroit are incarcerated throughout the state, so MDOC staff work with the program team to identify potential enrollees and arrange transfers to MRF. Inmates in Michigan correctional facilities other than these two can request a transfer to the MRF to access the One-Stop services and training.
While incarcerated, participants utilize the One-Stop’s services and upon release continue seeing the same DESC staff members in the community as they did when incarcerated so the continuity of services is maintained. Additionally, the program team will work with peer mentors from LUCK, Inc., and MDOC parole and probation officers to maintain contact with participants, reduce recidivism, and move them into employment.