Employment Center Helps Work-Release Inmates Find Jobs
July 31, 2008
The Fairfax County Sheriff's Office, in conjunction with the SkillSource Group, Inc., Northern Virginia Workforce Investment Board, and the Fairfax County Department of Family Services, has created a one-stop employment center to provide inmates basic and comprehensive training and employment services. The goals of the center are to prepare inmates for a successful transition from jail into the community and to reduce recidivism.
The SkillSource Group, non-profit entity of the Northern Virginia Workforce Investment Board, identifies opportunities that enhance and create workforce development initiatives on behalf of employers, jobseekers and workers throughout the region. The employment center provides Work Release inmates the opportunity to connect with local employers who will meet, interview and hire job seekers prior to their release into the community. SkillSource staff also work with employers to coordinate supportive services and to assist with employee bonding, eligibility for federal tax credits and other employment-related matters.
Sheriff Stan Barry says that the benefits of the program are quantifiable. "It costs approximately $30,000 per year to house an inmate. If we give an inmate marketable job skills and real job opportunities, the chances that he or she will offend again are drastically reduced. Every ex-offender who doesn't come back to jail saves taxpayers $30,000." Barry adds that just as important are the intangible benefits of reducing recidivism. "You can't attach a cost to the trauma of crime victims."
Funding for the SkillSource program came from a $150,000 grant from the Governor's Office for Workforce Development and the Virginia Workforce Council. To learn more about the program, please contact Lt. Ricardo Evans.
Pictured cutting the ribbon at the job center's grand opening are (in the middle, l-r) Danny LeBlanc, Governor Tim Kaine's advisor on workforce issues; Gerry Connolly, chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors; and Sheriff Stan Barry. Also pictured (on left) are Dana Paige, director of the Fairfax County Department of Family Services; Mike Zeiders, chair of the Northern Virginia Workforce Investment Board; Cathy Hudgins, Hunter Mill District Supervisor; and (on far right) John Ritzert, chair of the SkillSource Group.