Dept. Of Labor Grant Helps Monroe County Prisoners Find Jobs

Project Hope has received a grant to help prisoners reintegrate back into society.

Two inmates at the Monroe County Jail.

Photo: Bill Shaw/WFIU-WTIU News

Two inmates stand against a wall at the Monroe County Jail.

A grant from the U.S. Department of Labor will help a local group fund a program aimed at reintegrating prisoners into society.

Project Hope is an offshoot of the group Decarcerate Monroe County, which works to lower the number of inmates jailed in Bloomington. The project is aimed at connecting prisoners to employers and offering a support system after they have found a job to lower recidivism rates.

IU Graduate Student Cameray Boyden is an active member of DMC. Her dad is in jail and she says it is hard for people like her father to escape the stigma of imprisonment when they’re released.

“My father is incarcerated, they automatically assume all these stereotypes about, you know, my father,” Boyden says. “But they don’t know that he’s hardworking, that he has a stable job when he is not incarcerated.”

Monroe County Council President Geoff McKim says the county judicial system costs around 18 million dollars annually. That money comes from taxes, so McKim says expanding the tax base relies in some small part on inmate reintegration.

“Once they’ve served their sentence, then it’s incredibly important to bring them back into society,” he says.

McKim says research shows that recidivism rates drop when former inmates get jobs after their release.

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