Ky. gov. rolls out programs to help inmates get jobs after leaving prison

The program will allow inmates to receive virtual job interviews from businesses in the program

By James Mayse

OWENSBORO, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear announced plans Monday to help state inmates gain employment, ideally leaving prison or jail with a job offer in hand.

Beshear announced the plans at the Capitol, with the announcement streamed on social media. Beshear said the programs are a partnership between the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

Beshear said the state has an unemployment rate of 3.9%, which a press released described as a "record low."

Beshear said the state has invested money in helping people suffering from addictions get and keep job, and has created other job training programs and assistance.

The Justice Cabinet and Kentucky Chamber partnered on the "Prison to Work Pipeline," program, which will be used in all 13 state prisons and the 19 county jails that house state inmates.

Daviess County Detention Center houses state inmates.

The program will allow inmates to receive virtual job interviews from businesses in the program, so inmates can have a job and a start date upon release. The program will also give inmates help preparing resumes and readying themselves for interview.

"Ninety five% of the state inmate population will be released from custody at some point," Beshear said.

The state, Beshear said, needs to "ensure there's a good-paying job" for inmates upon release.

The second program, the "Job Readiness Simulation," is a virtual job skills training program. The program has been used as a pilot in some prisons, but will be expanded next year.

People who are employed with good jobs after release from prison "are less likely to reoffend," Beshear said.

Ashli Watts, president and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber, said there are currently more job openings in Kentucky than there are people who seeking work. Kentucky has a workforce participation rate of 58%, the seventh-lowest in the nation, Watts said.

"There are more than 160,00 jobs open in the Commonwealth, and less than 80,000 actively looking" for work, Watts said.

Kerry Harvey, secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, said the programs will help people leave prison with "the tools to be good employees, good dads and good citizens.

"The program will contribute to a lower recidivism rate," Harvey said. "It means fewer dollars spend on incarceration. It means less crime."


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