JOBview 2nd chance gives offenders head start
There’s an old saying: "You don’t work, you don’t eat." That’s the simple fact of life in society where being employed means the difference between sleeping in an apartment or under a bridge. For an ex-felon, especially one on parole, the situation is even more crucial. Gainful employment is often the difference between freedom and incarceration. Not having a reliable source of legitimate financial support leaves ex-felons more susceptible to recidivism as they may resort to criminal activity to survive.
A newly–released offender is under pressure to find a job to pay parole fees, to pay expenses wherever they are residing, and in general, to rebuild life after a years-long hiatus. With the above in mind, finding a job is of the utmost importance, but the job search can be a frustrating ordeal. There are a limited number of jobs matching the job seekers’ qualifications, and there is a limited window of time per day to spend looking. Then there is the question that lurks in the back of every ex-offender’s mind: will my felony conviction prevent me from getting this job?
Wouldn’t it be a great thing if an offender could begin the job search before he or she even got out of prison? Wouldn’t it be great to have a head start and practically have a job waiting upon release? Modern technology just may have an answer.
Windham School District (WSD), in partnership with TDCJ, is introducing a standalone kiosk: JOBview 2ndChance.
It allows people returning to the community from prisons and jails to search for jobs. JOBview 2ndChance kiosks are "prison-ready" because the user does not have access to a keyboard or to the Internet. The offender selects the city and type of job, and jobs are searched using a touch screen interface, controlling and limiting what the user can see and do. Company names, job descriptions, and job application requirements and instructions, can be printed directly from the kiosk to assist the user with later follow-up. JOBview 2ndChance provides access to nearly two million job listings nationwide.
JOBview definitely has the approval of Veronica Casanova, director of WSD Instructional Services Division.
"We’re very excited to expand access to JOBview for our students. Preparation is key to successful reintegration. JOBview provides current, relevant information to releasing offenders so that they can hit the ground ready for employment," Casanova said.
JOBview benefits the offender in a number of ways. They get a 30 to 90 day head start on their job search and they have the opportunity to practice electronic job-searching, a technology they commonly encounter upon release.
JOBview lets offenders find jobs based on the particular experience or interest they may have. "I have previous experience as a grill cook and would like to work at a restaurant chain when I get out. Through JOBview, I learned that I would have to send this restaurant chain a resume to be considered for the job," a JOBview user from the Dominguez State Jail said.
"The JOBview kiosk has been very useful for a lot of people. It gives offenders focus on certain available jobs prior to release. It has given several inmates hope in getting the jobs they found on the kiosk," a teacher’s aid on the Lychner Unit said.
JOBview also benefits correctional facilities that choose to implement it. One significant advantage of JOBview is that it frees staff from the time consuming activity of finding and printing out job listings for offenders who are about to re-enter society. In fact, JOBview requires no staff at all to operate. JOBview is self-service and requires no training because its user interface is self explanatory. To date, the JOBview 2ndChance kiosks are available on five state jail units: Dominguez, Hutchins, Plane, Gist and Lychner.
In order to take advantage of JOBview, an offender on the above listed units submits an I-60 to the unit librarian requesting a session. When the request is granted, the offender will have the opportunity to access the JOBview database. It is updated one to two times per month and features thousands of jobs both state and nationwide. According to an offender at Gist State Jail, "I will be going home soon and now know what jobs are available. I feel that my chances of finding a job are greater after using JOBview."
The newly released ex-offender has a number of fundamental objectives that he or she will need to meet on the path to productive social re-entry. JOBview 2nd Chance is a way for the offender to accomplish one of the most significant of those objectives before ever leaving the institution. This lowers the risk for recidivism and increases the chance for success. Hopefully, JOBview 2nd Chance will be the only chance an ex-offender needs.
Reprinted from The ECHO.
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Annual Performance Report SY16 (2015-2016)
Thank you for taking the time to review Windham School District (WSD) programs and learn more about great things happening in correctional education in Texas.
Windham has undergone tremendous change in the past two years. The challenges of teaching in the correctional setting have required our school district to be continually improving course delivery and course offerings to keep students at the top of the achievement curve. Read through WSD’s Annual Performance Report for School Year 2015-2016 (SY16) and you will see a significant range of improvements resulting in greater success for students.
Two years ago Windham developed a plan to dramatically increase the number and type of vocational offerings in our schools while also advancing instructor training. Windham utilized the latest advances in predictive statistical analysis to guide these changes in coursework and to decide which new courses to add.
These new courses have been designed, developed, and implemented to reach even more students while elevating the skill level of the overall training program. This has been accomplished by first offering basic or core courses to students for mastery of basic skills. These basic skills are then applied to a variety of “next step” training within more specialized areas, guiding students to reach for higher achievement and better opportunities for employment. “Next step” training is high level and in high demand. Employers are seeking skilled tradesmen, so Windham is offering many Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math courses to meet the need. For example, Windham is offering courses in copper and fiber optic cabling, Computer Numerically Controlled machinery operations, Electronic Service Technician work, and other areas of employment.
Windham has also increased its success in awarding industry-recognized vocational certifications by more than three times the number accomplished three years ago: Windham delivered training leading to more than 18,000 industry certifications in SY16. Widespread vocational teacher training was also conducted this school year to further strengthen the vocational program while increasing student achievement. By changing the delivery of vocational instruction and improving teacher skill levels, students are receiving more advanced instruction and are better able to build a skill set within their areas of interest.
Life skills courses taught by Windham show a significant reduction in recidivism, particularly within the Cognitive Intervention Program (CIP) classes. The effectiveness of this program, along with that of the pre-release CHANGES program, has also been heightened through changes in content and delivery. With the support of expert researchers in the field of criminal thinking processes, Windham has completely rewritten CIP and CHANGES curriculum. Enhancements and measurable outcome assessments have also been added to these valuable programs. In addition, WSD has trained all teachers of life skills classes using the newest teaching techniques, and we are confident this training will further improve student performance.
Academic programs have also continued to improve through additional teacher training and expansion of services, including improvements for younger students and those with special needs. Through a large investment in technology, Windham has been able to provide computer-assisted learning components to improve student performance through blended approaches to instruction. The performance of students on assessments such as the Test of Adult Basic Education and the High School Equivalency Certificate (HSEC) test has shown improvement in course delivery, translating into student success in many areas. Windham also expanded offerings to reach more students by offering specialized teaching curriculum during WSD summer break. These Elective Personal Enrichment Classes are relevant and of high interest to students, with student response being overwhelmingly positive.
Windham continues to cultivate a higher quality of teaching, improved course offerings, and relevant training opportunities for our student population. As a result, we look forward to continued growth and achievement. It is also our
privilege to partner with other public and private agencies, entities, and individuals who are dedicated to helping incarcerated men and women change their lives and find careers. Great challenges require great cooperation, so we welcome these connections.
WSD is honored by the accomplishments of students who learn skills or obtain training from our classes, using it to reenter society, become contributing citizens, and rebuild families. Your interest and support are critical to meeting these challenges. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. Together we’ll strengthen roadways leading to changed lives, a stronger workforce, and a better tomorrow. The possibilities for success are limitless.
Dr. Clint Carpenter,
Superintendent, Windham School District
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