Jail 2

County Program Readies Inmates for Work (VIDEO)

Inmates have access to a library, drug treatment services, and can attend religious programs at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Boyds.

They can also participate in the OneStop program where–eight months prior to their release– they become job ready, participate in mock interviews, talk about explaining their charges to a potential employer, and create resumes and cover letters.

On Wednesday, the Corporate Volunteer Council (CVC) hosted a small business forum at the facility where businesses in the area had a chance to speak with inmates who are going through the OneStop program.

Robert Green, director of the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation, said partnerships with nonprofits and private companies is what makes Montgomery County different.

In this MyMCMedia Extra, Green talks about the importance of collaborations with individuals from the private sector and the benefits of having a job.

“One of the things we need to make very much sure that we understand is that 90 percent of all people incarcerated in the United States at some point will return to the streets of our community… how do we want them to return? How do we want them connected? How do we make sure that they have the opportunity to engage in gainful employment? …We are in Montgomery County taking that time while the individuals are incarcerated focused in that return home,” Green said.

Donna Rojas, workforce development trainer or coach Rojas as she is known in the facility, said inmates come twice a week for 90 minutes classes.

“We help our customers get job ready and life ready. In total, we have a 16-week program. Six weeks of job readiness; six weeks of job search, and four weeks of personal development,” Rojas said.

Jail 5OneStop is part of the reentry services offered at the facility. Rojas said

“What I tell everybody is that we do everything from resumes to baby mama drama so that they understand how to work, not just work, but they are able to reintegrate with their families as well as learn how to network in the community,” Rojas added.

According to officials at the correctional facility, the start-up cost for rehabbing space, purchasing furniture, computers, video and television training equipment was $50,000. Today, the county pays for two full-time and one part-time staff, which includes salary, benefits, training, and travel. For the past two years, the county has added in its budget $160,000 to operate the jail based OneStop program.

Julia Craighill, of Chevy Chase, owns a consultant company and said she was impressed with the program adding that county officials really “devised a very methodical and thoughtful way of educating the incarcerated people while they are in here while continuing that support on the outside, which is very essential.”

Craighill talked to some inmates and said she hoped to connect them to construction companies that hire ex-offenders.

“I want to take my consulting to other construction companies … and hiring from the ex-offender population is something they do and that I want to help them do better. Understand how to work with these people and make sure that they are successful,” she said.

And Isaias Cornejo said he wants to be successful. Cornejo said he moved from Peru at 16, made some “bad choices,” but wants to change his life.

“I’m a self-contractor. One of my dreamers is to have my own business. … Once I got into the OneStop, it was the help that I needed to guide me to the right place,” he said.

When asked what are his plans for the future, Cornejo said, “I’m [gonna] pursue my dreams in terms of being successful. I already made my mind.”

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Aline Barros

About Aline Barros

Aline Barros is a multimedia reporter and community engagement specialist with Montgomery Community Media. She can be reached at Abarros@mymcmedia.org and on Twitter at @AlineBarros2.

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