Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $900,000)
The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office (OPSO) operates the local jail system, including a Work Release program for incarcerated individuals, as well as a Day Reporting Center (DRC) for community supervision individuals. We propose to improve reentry outcomes by providing decarceration and career counseling to individuals currently incarcerated with OPSO, as well as to provide increased employment skills and vocational training for persons under community supervision at the DRC. OPSO will partner with SisterHearts, Inc., a decarceration and vocational training center, for increased transitional services.
The aim of the program is to start the work of decarceration by offering programming from within the jail facility, particularly for persons who are nearing release. We will service a population of up to sixty incarcerated clients total per year, and up to thirty community supervised or released individuals. Once a person is nearing release, they may enroll in the SisterHearts employment portion of the program, which will provide employment and additional classwork. At the same time, persons under community supervision who have enrolled in the DRC will be able to enroll in the SisterHearts employment program, which will provide employment while allowing the DRC client to take full advantage of all other services offered by the DRC.
The aim of the curriculum is to prepare clients for the workforce as prepare to exit the criminal legal system, as well as to provide strategies to avoid recidivism. The combination of classroom instruction and “on the job coaching” will allow participants to develop the skills needed to transition to permanent employment opportunities.
Combining existing programming that serves both currently and formerly incarcerated persons will connect internal treatment and external continuing behavioral modification and treatment services, while partnering with the community for intensive and ex-offender centered support. OPSO is well positioned to provide this need, as the Department currently provides both work release and the DRC, while our community partner, SisterHearts, Inc., is well positioned to meet the vocational and decarceration needs of clients.