by U.S. Probation Officer Barbara J. Hunt (Nevada)
In May of 2006, the U.S. Probation Office in the District of Nevada commenced an employment program. As a kick-off to the program, we created Employment Development Corners, which are located in the lobbies of our Reno and Las Vegas offices. Each corner highlights resources, upcoming events, and education. A stand-alone computer and printer contain an interest profiler assessment and a resumé writing program. The corners enable defendants/offenders to prepare resumés, take the interest profiler assessment (to appropriately match their skills, abilities, and interests), and obtain documentation regarding One Stop JobConnect Centers, work opportunity tax credit, and upcoming educational and employment opportunities. We invited our local U.S. Pretrial Services Office and our local residential re-entry centers to partner and use the corners. The goal of the project is to have defendants and offenders complete the interest profiler assessment at their first contact with the Pretrial Services or Probation Office. The information gathered may be included in their pretrial files and presentence reports. We also share this information with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and supervision officers to help offenders with future vocational goals. Next we solicited partnerships by conducting employment program presentations with boards and agencies representing the state of Nevada, faith-based organizations, and non-profit programs. Following are some of our experiences with these organizations:
In September and October of 2006, the U.S. Probation and Department of Justice funded Weed & Seed program hosted an employer’ s breakfast and a career fair to educate the community about the Defendant/Offender Workforce Development (DOWD) Program and re-entry. Elected city officials and a representative from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office attended this event. A local mall donated space for the career fair. We provided lunch for the employers, who were recognized at the conclusion of the event. We also held a raffle for a $50 Wal-Mart gift certificate. The employers’ breakfast and the career fair will be held annually to provide career opportunities for offenders returning to their communities. U.S. Probation and Weed & Seed will continue to work together to improve communications and streamline activities of local agencies in the Reno area.
Nearby FCI Herlong developed the Release Preparation Program (RPP) for inmates at this federal prison camp and medium-security facility. Our office has given presentations to inmates in this program and has provided guidance on conditions of supervised release, basic supervision conditions, drug testing, violation procedures, supervision contacts, meetings with probation officers, and termination of supervision. Recently, we assisted the RPP by giving a joint presentation with One Stop - Nevada JobConnect. At our recent seminar, JobConnect discussed its goals and visions for prisoners being released. We provided information about training and educational programs, career assistance, and other national one-stop locations.
The Western Apprenticeship Coordinators Association (WACA) provides on-the-job training for brick, tile, and marble/stone craft workers; carpenters; construction craft laborers; electricians; ironworkers; operating engineers; painting, drywall/floor covering workers; plasterers/cement masons; plumbers/pipe fitters; roofers; sheet metal workers; utility workers; and stationary engineers. Individuals 18 years or older with a high school diploma or GED, may apply to learn on the job for a well-paying career in the construction industry. All apprenticeships provide a comprehensive benefits package (pension plan and medical, dental, and vision insurance), job security, and safe working conditions. Some programs allow for students to work on completing their GED during the apprenticeship. WACA has attended our employer’s breakfast and career fair, and we attended WACA’s monthly meeting in January to further develop our partnership.
The Nevada Department of Corrections has developed an offender re-entry handbook that lists many resources. Our office shares this handbook with BOP inmates who have an approved pre-release investigation to Nevada. Through this collaboration, we have a construction specific breakfast for employers scheduled for April 26, 2007, in the Las Vegas area.
In October of 2006, our office gave presentations to the Nevada Department of Public Safety, Division of Parole and Probation. The Division believes this program will greatly assist them in helping their offenders obtain suitable employment.
Bannum Place, a residential re-entry center, distributes our employment program information to employers and offenders. They also encourage those recently released to visit the Employment Development Corners immediately upon release from prison to better identify individual vocational referral needs.
Finally in October of 2006, the National Latino Police Officer Association held its annual conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. U.S. Probation presented a four-hour Employment Development Workshop. The training addressed employment issues facing our defendants/offenders and the work being done to address those issues. The Nevada U.S. Pretrial Office attended this training and reported that there was a consensus among those who attended that the benefits of having an employed defendant/offender not only eliminates possible supervision violations, but builds a person's character and self esteem.
To emphasize these partnerships referenced above, our employment program has been named CREATE - Collaborative Reentry Efforts and Actions Toward Employment. Now a collaborative invitation to you ... we will be conducting an Offender Employment Specialist Training in Las Vegas, Nevada, on June 20, 21, and 22, 2007. The location is the Lloyd D. George U.S. Courthouse, 333 Las Vegas Blvd. in the Grand Jury Room and the registration is free. Please contact Barbara Hunt, at Barbara_Hunt@nvp.uscourts.gov if you are interested in attending.
Mon, Apr 16 2007 7:25 AM