Over the past 2 weeks, we’ve been exploring ways to reduce recidivism. I’ve been concentrating on the various methods of education and their outcomes as a way to show intentional investment in education will produce options for returning citizens while simultaneously reducing recidivism and increasing safety in the community. Often times the coveted degree is discussed but I submit that not everyone wants to attend college. Another viable option is vocational training which teaches individuals specific skills that can be used to obtain employment such carpentry, welding, and plumbing to name a few.
Throughout the country, there are men and women who’ve benefited from learning trades and ultimately putting their life back together. I ran across an organization named 2nd Call which is located in Los Angeles, California. This program was co-founded by Skipp Townsend who happens to be a former gang member who turned his life around and decided to reach back in order to help other turns their life around. Currently, 2nd Call had been successful in creating space for growth for “high risk” individuals one they return to society from incarceration. The returning citizens go through training which includes job readiness, life skills, domestic violence, and anger management, and parenting classes. Also, 2nd Call has had success in obtaining union certification and contract work for their program attendees thereby increasing confidence in the returning citizens and potential employers through skillset training and employment opportunities.
In conclusion, as we look at the implementation of ban the box policies throughout the country which would remove the question have you been convicted of a felony which removes a huge barrier. It’s important for returning citizens to have the necessary skill set to compete for the sought after position which can be obtained by vocational training. Also, it’s important to highlight and support organizations taking a hands-on approach in preparing returning citizens to become assets to the community.