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Expanding Career Pathways for Inmates and Reentrants

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $899,994)

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC) is requesting $899,994 in BJA “Second Chance Act:  Adult Reentry Education, Employment, Treatment and Recovery Program” funding for Category 1: Improving Correctional Education.  Funding will be used for the PADOC’s “Expanding Career Pathways for Inmates and Reentrants” project.

PADOC’s Division of Correction Education will expand its “Career Pathways” approach to vocational education.  This approach promotes employer-driven pathways that prepare inmates with in-demand skills while incarcerated, and that connect those individuals to jobs and ongoing education upon release.

Data shows that the recidivism rate for reentrants who enter employment within their first year of release leads to a 16% reduction in recidivism – 57.2% for those who enter employment, versus 72.8% for those who do not become employed.  Expansion of the career pathways approach will lead reentrants to employment and reduce recidivism.

PADOC will meet the grant objective of expanding vocational programs for incarcerated adults to result in certification and credential attainment.  PADOC will do this by:

Establishing Hydroponics, Diesel Mechanics, and CDL licensure vocational programs leading to 400 individuals earning certifications during the grant period;
Establishing pre-apprenticeship programs in the Building Trades, Food Service, and Welding vocational programs, with approximately 190 individuals earning certifications during the grant period; and
Establishing articulation agreements for existing PADOC vocational courses to convert to credit with community colleges, with 3,177 current reentrants and any future course completers potentially benefiting.

PADOC will also meet the grant objective of demonstrating increased collaboration between educational providers and corrections, community supervision providers, and other reentry stakeholders by:

Developing a file share where all credentials earned by inmate students are accessible to education and reentry staff within PADOC as well as any reentry staff working for community corrections; and
Providing information on articulation agreements to reentrants in the community.

The 590 individuals completing vocational and pre-apprenticeship coursework will be tracked upon their release from prison.  In addition to reporting individual recidivism data, PADOC will also work with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry to determine if these individuals became employed, if they retained employment, average wages, and the industries in which they entered employment. This data will be used by PADOC to determine if vocational programs allow reentrants to obtain employment, and if the vocational programs selected lead to a lower overall recidivism rate.

Date Created: December 7, 2021