Monday, February 06, 2012

More of this, please: Vocational training for prisoners facilitates jobs on reentry

Prison trusties in Hondo participate in get on-the-job kitchen training at a community food bank, with many hired as cooks upon release. Reported the SA Express-News ("Inmate cooks give back at food bank," Feb. 5):
Most employers are turned off by ex-convict applicants, [TDCJ laundry, food and supply director Tony  D'Cunha] said, but hiring from this program has been “exceptional.”

“This can be a model for food banks nationwide, where the prison system gives back to the community by returning (inmates) to society as taxpaying citizens,” D'Cunha said.
Want to reduce recidivism and long-term costs for incarceration and crime?  More than anything else, transitioning ex-offenders into the workforce makes the rest possible. It'd be nice to see this program not just continued  but scaled up.


Anonymous said...

Are there any of them that are not gang tagged from head to toe?

Since gangs exist to commit crime, does having your gang affiliation on constant display help when applying for a job.

sunray's wench said...

Anon, you really need to get educated and use some common sense. Of course there are inmates who are not gang members.

This is a great initiative and really should be adopted properly by TDCJ across all units. However, siting prisons in the middle of nowhere adds transportation to the list of security issues. Smaller prisons in urban areas, anyone?

RSO wife said...

My hat's off to the people who are training these guys to be self supporting when they leave prison. Most of the guys who end up in jail more than once do so because they have few job skills and nobody willing to train them, so there is no incentive for them to do anything other than what they were doing before they were arrested. If they don't learn to do something useful while they are in prison, they will repeat what they know how to do when they get out. The recidivism rate is what it is because of the lack of any kind of job training or some way to help them integrate back into society and be useful, productive people. Lots of them don't have any people skills either except what they learned on the streets.

My husband is over 65, spent 18 months in prison, and never even met a gang member til he went there. You couldn't pay him to get a tattoo. At least he had been in the work force for a long time, had job skills, a business and a family to come home to.

To Anon 8:17 - I'm not sure if you write what you do because you are uneducated and prejudiced or you just try to stir up controversy. Either way you are talking out of the wrong end of your body. It's people like you who are a threat to a civilized society, not the guys who get out of prison and are trying to turn their lives around, tattoos or not. I don't know about your Higher Power, but the one of my understanding gives second chances- to everybody, no exceptions. Even to you!

DavidJ said...

I can remember back in my father's law enforcement and corrections days, when TDCJ-ID was about 75%self sufficient, a large part of the inmate population was trained to perform the needs of the facilities. They would walk out with knowledge or certificates in brick/rock masonry, food service, farm work, electrical, sheet metal, welding, and plumbing skills. Some of the best skilled in these fields were young offenders who went in with no skills and came out with a trade, and they utilized these to make successful lives on the outside. I strongly support TDCJ-ID's efforts to further vocational training-it brings back the old clieche, "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for one day; Teach a man how to fish, and you will feed him for life."

Anonymous said...

06:10 said: If they don't learn to do something useful while they are in prison, they will repeat what they know how to do when they get out.

06:00 Aren't we investing trillions of taxpayer's money in K-12 schools? Don't these future inmates sit in these classroom from age four (pre-K) to 18? Why is it that they have to wait until prison before they start to learn something useful?

Do they sit there and hold their breath until they turn 19 so as to avoid learning anything useful? If they refused to learn things all those long years are we now forced to shell out even more? I don't mind paying for their education, but should we let them waste my contribution to their first 18-19 years of educational opportunities? Don't their parents have some responsibility or is it only the taxpayers?

DEWEY said...

Good idea, but a better idea is for MORE employers to hire ex-convicts. Most go back because even though they have job skills, no one will hire them.

Anonymous said...

Until Texas starts following rules, i.e., not going further back than 7 years for a felony,knowing parole has been completed and the person has an excellent education and work skills, nothing will be done to get our people back to work.

Our Lord came, suffered for our sins died and went to heaven, and then returned. He returned to prove forgivenss is the answer. What is wrong with forgiveness of someone who made a mistake? Give those who want to work and make a life for their family a chance to do so. They paid for their mistake.

Kevin Stouwie said...

It is extremely important not to further cut the vocational opportunities afforded to inmates, particularly as the budgets get cut year after year.

I actually had a client recently who asked me to ask the Parole Board to NOT release him for at least 6 more months because he had enrolled in and began a CDL truck driving program (at a much lower cost than in the free world)in one of the Huntsville prisons and it would take 6 months to finish.

The Board was impressed with his maturity and discipline and granted his request. He will walk out of TDCJ with the ability and the drive to support himself.

This needs to become part of the real mission of TDCJ, as opposed to merely focusing on the punishment part contained in their mission statement.
That kind of thing needs to be much more widespread. and it was going to

Buffalo said...

I have always favored training inmates for jobs while incarcerated as opposed to warehousing offenders and having inmates initialed on a the road to being a career criminals. Of course there will always be those who can never be rehabilitated.

jabberman said...

Having just retired from TDCJ I will give my take on this issue.
I think the agency should in courage and reward vocational training. That is the only way to stop repeat offenders. However there some offenders that this will not work for.

Anonymous said...

I think this is wonderful that the inmates are employed in something useful! I wish that TDCJ would go back to 75% self-sufficiency. My husband has been locked up since 2009 and he has held a job in the prison kitchen, as a painter on the major's paint squad, and even though he is basically working for free, it is something to do! He hates to be idle and just sitting around, so yes, I really DO think that vocational and educational programs and rehabilitation programs should be a part of an inmates life while in prison. Good work, Grits!

esteban said...

I'm not a gang member, but I have been in prison and I just want to remind everyone that prison gangs began when the guards were inmates and were raping and killing, etc. other inmates for the prison officials. Of course we don't want ex-convicts out on the streets, we can't trust them! We'd rather have a president who gets blow-jobs in the White House! Him and people like him are very trust worthy!

Anonymous said...

Want to reduce and long-term costs for incarceration and crime?

Reintroduce vocational education programs back into Texas high schools and do away with this lobby driven, stupid assed assessment testing.

Anonymous said...

Want to reduce and long-term costs for incarceration and crime?
You hit the nail on the head. Our state leaders do not want to reduce the cost for long term incarceration. This would disrupt the tdcj job corps. In the most backwoods of prison built towns like gatesville the local deliverance types have been doing “whatever” it takes to keep their inventory at the right levels for over 100 years.

Federal funding cause the public schools to teach to the standard test. This robs children of their creativity and has created a large population of addicts. Most kids are boored with the low level of acedemics offered in the public school. Thereby causing lazy ass administrators to label a kid ADD-whatever and make them drug addicts. Or worst shooving them in the pipeline. And these lazy ass administrators and teachers pompassly make parents think this is a good thing. It is a good thing, if you want you kid to become fodder to the moroonic tough on crime foolish thinking. Ive been told by several councelers in DISD and one in RISD that if I were to take my 7th grade daughter out of her accedemicly high standard private school and put her in public school she would be in tyc within the year. The reason is most of the teachers she would have would not be smart enough to teach her and she would not go for the dumbing down and being blown off. I was told her hunger to learn would be labeled disruptive. Even in honors and AP classes. Hunger to learn is disruptive!!! Sad, very sad.

It’s a historical fact that desegragation caused the ruling wasp’s to beleave the public school had to be dumb down to the lowest common denominator, the black child. Someday our socity will be able to handle learning about the racial hatred on both sides of the color line with out some ignoramus becoming defensive and labeling a presentation of historical facts racist. Or is this type of learning disruptive?

When our leaders deside they want to reduce the cost of long term incarceration they will do it. Until then all we can do is bitch about it on Grits.

Crain Watcher said...

Very good points Sheldon. Gatesville is only good for one thing and that is the prison sub-culture.

This is interesting TDCJ say's women will recieve one razor every week to shave with but on the Crain unit they get one very CHEAP RAZOR PER MONTH and it lasts one week. They want these women to be deprived, negelcted and lower their self-esteem. Why does this unit refuse to follow TDCJ rules. Some razors came into the commissary and the warden made them send them back. They are not trying to rehabilitate these women. They want them to go back to society broken. This is unacceptable to bill the tax payers for these razors by the month only to short change them. Last time I checked this is called tax payer fraud this unit is doing. The women there are issued 6sanitary napkins for a whole month. When a friend of mine ran out one night and asked for some toilet tissue, she was told to stick a sock in her crotch and shut up. She was given a case and punished for this also. The reason I even bring this up is the inmates (I mean family members) have not been able to buy tampons or razors at the commissary for over a year and when razors finally came in the were not allowed to have them. The commissary still for almost two years now have not even been able to get all the sizes of shoes. How can some one even say they can run an unit or commissary and cannot even order inventory. THEY DO NOT WANT TO IS WHY!!! They want these women to walk around with complexes to degrade and humilate them. If an inmate is in school they will do everything they can to kick them out of the classes. The state stopped the program where inmates could go to school and pay the state back when they were release. Grit's mention these cuts in another post, because there is no real effort to rehabilitate these women. This goes back to Gatesville and this communities dependent on keeping people locked up in prison. Rehabilitation is not offered in the women facilities and what little that is, is the first thing taken away from them by the staff. YOU LOCKED THEM UP, YOU PAY FOR THEM. Tuff on Crime remember.