WATCH: Giving S.C. inmates a fair shot at employment

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) – Nearly everyone who’s behind bars will return to their communities. In South Carolina, about 900 people leave our prisons every month. About 18 months ago, the Department of Employment and Workforce partnered with the Department of Corrections, to make sure these ex-offenders are given a fair shot at success.

The “Work Ready Initiative” at Manning Correctional Institute, provides trade and life-skills training to inmates six months before they’re set for release.

Monday, Governor Nikki Haley visited inmates before they’re released as soon as next week, and as late as June. The governor offered words of encouragement, and listened to the worries these men have about re-entering the world.

“I don’t want a single inmate leaving any of our prisons without have a specified employment and workforce agent working on getting them a job every day,” Governor Haley said.

DEW Director Cheryl Stanton said with an historically low unemployment rate, the state has the employers to make that happen. She’s been making a list of those who are willing to give ex-offenders a second chance, enticing them with federal tax breaks and federal insurance.

“Then we just show them success,” Stanton said. “When they see someone who’s willing to work that hard, they’re willing to hire more.”

S.C.D.C. Director Bryan Stirling said it’s not just an economic safeguard, but a public safety one.

“We all know that when we’re working and busy, we’re not going to get in trouble,” he said.

Director Stanton said almost 100 people have secured jobs so far through this program. She says these are not minimum-wage jobs, but ones that allow people to really support themselves and their families.

Categories: Local News