In 2007, 4,776 people decided to make Indianapolis their home after being released from prison. Three years later, 52 percent of those ex-offenders were behind bars again. Indiana's recidivism rate, according to Roger Jarjoura, Associate Professor at the School of Public Affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI), reports that state's recidivism rate -- or habitual relapse into crime -- is less than 40 percent.
|As a condition of their release and parole requirements, many ex-offenders are required to find jobs|
Re-entry is challenging on many fronts for men and women who have been incarcerated and earned their release. Finding a job is critical to their chances for a new life; indeed, many ex-offenders are required to find a job shortly after their release date. But job prospects are often limited, and those who have spent time in prison can expect to earn 60 cents on the dollar, compared to the general workforce, according to a 2010 study by the Pew Center on the States. Stable, well-paying jobs can provide ex-offenders with a better chance of staying out of prison.
A number of local organizations including RecycleForce, PACE, Southeast Community Services and New Life Development Ministries, currently featured in an Indianapolis Recorder series, provide job training for ex-offenders. As the Indianapolis Business Journal recently reported, local leaders are considering a "ban the box" initiative. The initiative could eliminate the check box indicating an applicant's felony conviction on job applications. Meanwhile, those local organizations are working to provide meaningful jobs and supports to ex-offenders.
As reported in the Indianapolis Recorder:
The “teach a man to fish” concept of New Life Development Ministries is simple yet profound. Participants are able to earn an honest paycheck and continue to develop their skill while putting the pieces back to their lives. They are also given access to supplemental help, such as clothing, food, housing and treatment programs if needed. These opportunities also give ex-offenders a chance to prove to their families they are changed and work on rebuilding those bonds.
Like several local programs, New Life Development Ministries provides individuals with opportunities to commit to a positive live path after incarceration. The Recorder articles feature several examples of men who have utilized their services, including Anthony Darvy:
|New Life Development Ministries hosted its first annual Carpentry Training graduation in August 2011.|
From the mid 70s to the early 90s, [Anthony] Darvy went in and out of prison primarily for robbery. At his height, Darvy has stolen more than $80,000 worth of jewelry.
During the late ‘90s, Darvy met a Chicagoan and decided to move to the Windy City with her. Crime and drugs got the best of him so to permanently shake his bad habits, he sought drug treatment.
He then moved to Indianapolis where he lived and worked in a halfway house. Now at age 61, Darvy lives a slow, normal suburban life. He is married and has three middle-aged children.
“The wildest thing my kids see is a blue-haired skateboarder,” laughed Darvy.
He is grateful for his stable life and is also grateful for the four years he’s spent at New Life Development Ministries where he serves as a painter and crew supervisor.
“This is an opportunity to lift our lives up. Here, you learn how to live without all the madness,” said Darvy. “This is something I missed growing up. That’s why I’ve been here for so long.”
Ex-offenders who seek help at another local agency, Southeast Community Services, find a range of job training, credit counseling and financial literacy opportunities to help them find meaningful employment. The wrap-around services at Southeast are part of the Center for Working Families model, an approach designed to foster self-sufficiency and economic stability. Like New Life Development Ministries, Southeast focuses on construction jobs.
"About a third of our clients have a criminal history, women and men," says Terri Garcia, Southeast Community Services' Executive Director. "Construction is a great career for ex-offenders, because they pay well and they just don't ask the question; they don't make criminal history matter."
The Indianapolis Foundation, a CICF affiliate, provides financial support to several programs that support ex-offender job training and re-entry, including New Life Development Ministries and Southeast Community Services.
More about CICF's Family Success Initiative.